Monday, December 06, 2004
A movie about the insecurities of men at crossroads. Also, a book about teen-age angst
JHL and I watched "Sideways" a week ago and loved it. Perhaps not going to be remembered as a classic but it made us laugh and commiserate with the central characters, especially Miles Faymond (Paul Giamatti). Most of the film was shot in the Santa Ynez Valley between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Familiar territory, which added a special meaning to us. Almost like a French movie,light-hearted,except that the French would have gone easier in the scene where Jack got walloped by Stephanie. Wine drinking is an important part of the story but the director, Alexander Payne, did not let that stop him from developing the differences in characters and outlooks of Miles and his friend Jack.
Towards the end of the movie there was a scene where a student in Miles' class read a passage from a book. That rang a bell. The next day I checked my meager library and found what I was looking for.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The dog-eared copy of the book belonged to my daughters. Both of them read it in their high school years. Known as a great "coming of age" story, I remembered how much pleasure it gave me although I was a middle-aged man when I read the book.
I flipped through some pages,found the passage that was read by the student in the movie and thought about Gene and Phineas as they went through high school and on into World War II. It was a different world then. A bitter sweet novel. Certainly a classic.
Other great "coming of age" fiction:
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
"The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles,
it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and
experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination."