Books Parenting Politics Women

Book Review: Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards

I saw the Oprah Segment with Elizabeth Edwards in their home in Chapel Hill about her new book, Resilience, and sat mesmerized throughout the entire thing. Friends had it on their discussion list all through the weekend. I downloaded the book to my Kindle (have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle? Such instant gratification.) and read it Friday night.

I always get off track, and this book review is no exception. Can we first discuss the Edward’s house where Oprah’s interview took place? I thought John Edwards was all about environmental sanity. Before we get to the book, you have to look at their prideful presentation of their 28,000 square foot home on 100 acres for four people? Are you kidding me? 28,000 square feet including a full gymnasium? How much does that cost to heat John and Elizabeth?

“Our generation must be the one that says, ‘we must halt global warming,'” Edwards has said. “If we don’t act now, it will be too late. Our generation must be the one that says ‘yes’ to alternative, renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. Our generation must be the one that accepts responsibility for conserving natural resources and demands the tools to do it. And our generation must be the one that builds the New Energy Economy. It won’t be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.”

Ok, enough. But, I’m so glad he didn’t get the nomination.

I’m a mom, and yesterday was Mother’s Day. I read the book cover to cover, Elizabeth, (or really electronic page to electronic page) and can only ask what is your point? Did you really need to put the kids through this media blitz at this time so you could present a diversionary explosion to cover up a simple fact? John slept (for quite awhile) with another woman and that’s the end of that. The child looks just like him and you look like an ass when you say you have no idea if it’s his and it has no matter to you either way.

Supposedly, 60 percent of men cheat in a marriage. Granted, they aren’t doing it while on the campaign trail in 2008 when privacy isn’t even a word anymore, but that speaks more to the fact that John ain’t as smart as he sometimes appeared (remember that great line he had in one of the debates about Obama and Hillary – why do we always call Obama by his last name and Hillary by her first? – about being caught between the two of them?) Or, he’s more arrogant than most.

Her prose flows. (So does that sentence.) She can put a sentence together and tell a story.  My favorite is when she and her sister were walking to church. Her sister, playing with two dimes in her hand – one her allowance and the other the offering – lost one dime down a drain. She remarked, “Well there goes God’s dime.”

She talks about her feelings about her son’s death and those are amazing. With lines like, “Death doesn’t have the same impact after you have buried a child,” make you think about how something feels that you hope you never experience.

But when it comes to John, she’s all about the other woman. Why do we do that girls? Why do we always look at the other woman instead of the commitment made by our partners and the fact that they clearly didn’t mean it? She talks about how Rielle Hunter (yes, Elizabeth, she has a name) was waiting for John outside the hotel and came on with the line, “You’re so hot.” Please tell me you learned more in law school than to believe such an explanation by John. “He has no idea why he responded?” Please stop insulting my intelligence – and yours.

That said, there are points that she uses in her bid to forgive and move on that make sense in living our own lives. She talks about how John has been many things in their marriage; a great father, an attentive husband, a good provider. She says she doesn’t want to define their entire marriage by this one terible act. (Not sure it was one act, Elizabeth, but we get the point.) She’s right, why must we define those that disappoint us by the worst of what they bring to us rather than the best?

You cannot read this book and not think of Hillary. I did not support Hillary in her bid for the Presidency partly because of the Clinton history of lies and the bodies lying in the puddles created by them. But, I give Hillary kudos for focusing her life on actions in areas that matter to her rather than so much self reflection of the injustices of what happened to her. Both Hillary and Elizabeth are strong, mother figures to their childish, weak husbands whose boy-like charms do so well in politics. The parallel ends there.

I wish that Elizabeth left all of us out of her intimate life as Hillary has done. Elizabeth’s strength is in her brain and her toughness. She did so well when she spoke of poverty and their familial partnership desire to change it. I wish she had left her children some semblance of privacy at this very difficult time. Dying too early can’t be easy, and I try and give her that, but the book really serves to manipulate John into a lifetime of shame and guilt publicly, and you could see by the set in his jaw during his time with Oprah that he is paying his penance like the man he pretends to be but clearly isn’t.


West Side Story Review

I saw West Side Story, the original movie, with my father when I was under ten. It’s the first movie I remember seeing. So, it made sense that I would take my daughter, now 22, to the revival of the play when it opened a month or so ago.

I have been singing the songs ever since. Maria, Tonight. God, it doesn’t get any better. They could never lift the curtain, play the songs and everyone could close their eyes and see this play. No one writes music like that anymore.

That said, we have to question some of the casting decisions this time around.

For example, Maria. This new Maria is not Latino at all. With the Latino population growing to new heights (isn’t it 20 percent or something?), are you telling me they couldn’t find a true Latino Maria? I understood Natalie Wood those oh so many years ago, but I thought we’d made more progress than this. Besides, this Maria would never have the guts to run off with anyone. Trust me.

I’m not sure how to discuss Tony and be politically correct at the same time. Tony was not strong enough. Tony was the techie guy behind a computer screen, not the Tony who could fly up a flight of fire stairs on the outside of a brick apartment building above 124th street like Spiderman. My wrists are twice the size of his. There is no room for a Metro Tony in West Side Story.

Anita steals the show. She is amazing. She dances with a fever of passion that takes all the anger that must well up inside someone who has no options but a strong sense of self and has to dance before she explodes. She sings well, and she cares about the part. You don’t realize it until afterward, but there are those that love to do stage acting and those that do stage acting but don’t love it, and she is the former.

They did some of the scenes in Spanish. Even I Feel Pretty was in Spanish. I get it, and I promise I believe that ‘Give me your tired, your poor’ should include everyone, but it reminded me in the middle of I Feel Pretty that I’m not one of those Americans who feels that language in America should be anything other than English. Shoot me. And, I didn’t want my brain to go to political issues in the middle of West Side Story when the play is already fraught with the social injustice called our history which brings on guilt for me anyway. Moving right along.

The sets, the sets. The set for the fight taking place on the pavement under the underpass is phenomenal. How does one figure that out? Whoever designed it really brought the place – the walls, the darkness, the hopelessness – to us in the theatre. I thank you. It made all the difference.

Going to a play in today’s world calls for more than a few hours of entertainment. There are chores after the play ends.

I thought a bit about Sondheim and Bernstein during the play. I wonder at Leonard Bernstein and West Side Story. His finest hour? I read somewhere before I went that Berstein had been surprised at West Side Story’s success. “Who would want to see a show in which the first act curtain comes down on two dead bodies lying on the stage?” Isn’t that amazing? My how times have changed. I then found out that there is a book with lectures he gave at Harvard where he discusses the play.  (How did I live without the Internet? I don’t remember going to the library.) The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) (Paperback). I downloaded it to my Kindle. (LOVE my Kindle)

Then I went to ITunes and downloaded a bunch of the songs from the movie which I will surely make into a CD for Sarah at my earliest convenience (Translation: It will never happen).

Then I went back to the Internet and found some articles about the original play, cast etc.

I think I do these additional things after a play – at least one that I liked – (I did nothing after Wicked other than be grateful I never dressed as Glenda for Halloween and preferred to be grapes instead) to extend the high and possibly to amortize the cost of the play which was absolutely absurd.

Also, I can’t say it was an indicator of the financial crisis receding or not, but it was packed. Standing room only.

Go and see it. Do.