Wednesday, April 26, 2017


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine by Charles Higham. I loved FX's Feud: Bette and Joan, and I'm not ready for it to be over. Catherine Zeta-Jones was featured in a supporting role in the mini-series as Olivia de Havilland, an actress I know little about.

I mean, she's Melly from Gone with the Wind. Of course. But she was also a major star in Hollywood in the Golden Age, winning two Oscars. She was an early feminist, too. (The de Havilland Law revolutionized California labor practices in the 1930s and is still observed today.) She recently turned 100 years old. But there. That's what I know about her. 

So while this Higham book is considered a superficial study of the lady, her career and her life, I'm good with that. I'm just looking for a primer. Besides, the Bobby book (below) was a little heavy. Superficial is right up my alley.

2. What did you recently finish reading? In Love with Night by Ronald Steel. This book takes what Bobby Kennedy now stands for -- an end to poverty and a voice for the dispossessed -- and puts it in real-time context. The coalition he built in 1968 fascinates me because I believe it would have carried the day in 2016. Bobby was a hero to the young, minorities and blue collar whites. He was not the darling of "the elites," the  smear on Bernie Sanders, and he wasn't considered the "party establishment," the way Hillary Clinton is. In 1968, those roles were played by Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, respectively. Bobby was in his own lane. The nearest thing to him we have today is Joe Biden.

But Joe Biden wasn't our martyred president's brother. As much affection as the Vice President has garnered, it's not the unbridled passion Bobby inspired. The way Kennedy's personal grief fused with the traumatized nation's was powerful ... and not entirely his doing. To quote the book's last line, "The Bobby Myth is our creation, not his."

An examination of how/why Bobby Kennedy remains an icon of liberal politics, In Love with Night is less a biography than a 240-page editorial. I'm glad it concentrates on Bobby's policies and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, not whether or not he shtupped Marilyn. It's on solid ground when it explores the tougher and often ugly side to RFK's emphasis on action and victory. I appreciate how it compares and contrasts emotional, angry RFK and cool, ironic JFK. But for all the attention it pays to Bobby's relationships with his mother, his father and the Catholic Church and how they shaped him, it makes scant mention of his marriage of his 11 children (Ethel was pregnant when he died). I assume his own brood had some impact on him, especially since the family of his genesis influenced him so massively.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

A gem

The Pirates' Gerrit Cole was very good last night. Kyle Hendricks was better. Both bullpens were stellar. I love games like this. (I think the tension created three new pimples on my chin, but that's OK.)