Thursday Review

Image via Beta Girl

This is rather short. As I said on my post from Tuesday, circumstances have made it such that writing...well...anything is rather difficult. I'm out of practice, and I plan to practice a lot starting a.s.a.p. I've read from many authors that the most important thing for a writer to do is to both read a lot and to write a lot. I've got the reading down: I've read over 10,000 pages of print this year, more than I ever have before - that is about 60 books total. So, now it is time to start (again) the writing.

Just last night I finished - with Lloyd Webber's orgiastic organ chords and Michael Crawford's voice in my head - Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera.

I think I probably enjoyed this more reading it now than I did whenever I read it in high school or junior high when I was too enthralled by Lloyd Webber's Phantom to let Leroux's stand on its own. Granted it was difficult to read without Lloyd Webber's music playing in the background and juxtaposing what I knew of it (i.e. characters, costumes, vocal inflections) onto what Leroux wrote, but there is so much more here. The Phantom isn't just the ugly father-figure in love with his pupil-daughter: he appears to be all things that frighten a staunch middle class, even extending to gender (e.g. in at least two points he is the siren that attempts to lead men to a watery grave).

Leroux's writing can at times be quite pulpy, but I'm sure this made it even more popular at the time and more readable now. It brought not only a horrific story but a look into the world of Parisian Opera; at times, it seemed that Leroux point in writing had less to do with the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul but more with the Opera building itself: the catwalks, the cellars, the stage, and the horror story itself was just dressing...the opera being performed on stage, so that we could see the performance from our box, the spine tingling chill of sitting in Box Five, which to some degree, that is what the book is - the vicarious thrill of the opera, the play, something we can experience from the safety of an enclosed space.

I don't know what the sound quality of the following is, but in 1990, I was in the Muhlenberg North Marching Band for two performances of selections from Phantom. I was the Phantom, and at the end of the performances I walked across the field and was made to disappear inside a box that was brought out onto the field by the color guard.

This sadly is neither of those performances, but here is a video from earlier in that year, before the box and the Phantom were added to the performance.


Chris said…
Wow, I am humbled by your 60 books this year, and it's only September! What is your writing about?

I've always thought that it was more or less understood that if one wants to be a good writer one ought to be a voracious reader. Yet lately I have stumbled upon online writerly communities (no less) and blogs of self-proclaimed writers who insist on saying that "well-read" is a relative concept, and that it does not necessarily include the canon or the classics. ??!! We all come from different parts of the world and different educational backgrounds so our individual reading lists don't have to match, but I find that attitude of "there is no point in reading Melville because I am going to write the next great American novel anyway" oddly amusing and not a little arrogant...
becca said…
wow 60 books that's impressive and great post i always enjoy your writing
Writer said…
Chris, I agree with you. Mostly I think it's the idea of knowing the "rules" so that you can break them well. :)
Writer said…
Thank you, becca. :)

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