Monday, July 19, 2021

My Latest Oz Reading

Oh, so many things I've read recently, and so little time to actually write about it. But I'll try to squeeze in a few reactions over the coming days and weeks. I'll group them in loose categories, but these two aren't with anything else, so I'll just do them.

  • Pharaoh is my Eloise Jarvis McGraw reread this time around. This is her only adult novel, and for good reason. It covers a lot of political wranglings in ancient Egypt during the rule of four different Pharaohs, and it is just a plain long epic. There are also some hints of adult topics, but these are touched upon rather than described explicitly. Thankfully it is also split into four parts, so I was able to read one part, take a break and read something else, read another part, take a break, and so on. Anyone who thinks gamemanship and oneupmanship is a new thing will learn otherwise when reading this book, as it keeps happening, primarily from Hatshepsut, who convinces herself that she should be Pharaoh, and does all she can to make it so, up to and including exiling her nephew, Thutmose III, to Babylon. (Looking over the biographies I've linked to, I can see that Eloise may have made up some of the events and relationships in this book, which she herself does not deny. She clearly states in her foreward that this is a novel based on what is known of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Plus, we've likely had another fifty-some years of research and discoveries since Pharaoh was published, too.) It is a sprawling, epic story, and I'm glad I reread it. But something tells me I may not get around to reading it again.
  • The Wizard of MGM by A. Arnold Gillespie. If you think the name Buddy Gillespie may be familiar, you may know him as one of the chief special effects men at the M-G-M studio during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He started off in silent films (one of his earliest credits was the original 1925 film version of Ben Hur), and before long he was running the entire department. This was his attempt to distill all his knowledge and experience into a textbook that he hoped would benefit future filmmakers. He covers all kinds of pictures, and it might surprise some people just how many films need special effects of one sort or another. At times, it does get a little dry and technical, but Gillespie also peppers this book with all kinds of anecdotes about his long Hollywood career and the people he's worked with. With a title like this, you'd think there would be a lot about the special effects in The Wizard of Oz, but surprisingly there isn't although there is some. So this book is for the true hardcore movie and special effects fans more than Oz fans.

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