If <a href=”http://jackpendarvis.blogspot.com/ “>Jack Pendarvis</a> were in charge of The Memory Project, I am sure he would be blogging about TCM’s recent screening of “The Trouble With Angels.” I loved this film when I was young and even read the book on which it was based. (Very witty, almost as good as MY SISTER EILEEN, which is my personal gold standard for humorous memoirs. Everyone, even David Sedaris, is rated against my internal Ruth McKenney scale.)
The film is better than I remembered. How often does that happen? Granted, I remembered it as being not very good, but still. It was entertaining enough that I wondered if there was a way it could be made with Julia Sweeney in the Rosalind Russell role. Then again, since Julia Sweeney has embraced atheism, she’s probably less likely to want to play Mother Superior. (An aside: I’ve downloaded everything that Julia Sweeney has on iTunes and suggest others do the same, but LETTING GO OF GOD might be my favorite, a reasoned, funny and moving depiction of atheism. And, as it happens, I’m not an atheist.) There was also the incomparably meta moment when Gypsy Rose Lee appeared, standing next to Russell. Please tell me you know why that made me squee.
But “The Trouble with Angels” also reminded me of my particular fondness for boarding school stories in books, including:
A Sense of Magic (doesn’t really hold up)
Apples Every Day (does)
The Great Brain at the Academy (I am still pining for Tom.)
That book about the girl from the Shenandoah Valley who went to the Catholic boarding school
Dancing Shoes (okay, not a boarding school novel, but it feels like one)
And, last but never least, Tony, by Patrick Dennis
Now I am a huge Patrick Dennis fan. I have read and re-read everything he has written, even the books he co-authored, such as Guestward Ho. I am a big fan of the biography of Edward Tanner, Dennis’s real name, although it inevitably changed the way I read these beloved books. AUNTIE MAME is probably his best book, although LITTLE ME is funnier. But I have a soft spot for TONY, a novel about a con man told by someone who has known him since boarding school. Tony is a liar, a cheat, a womanizer, a social climber, a solipsist – and yet the reader, like the narrator, can’t quite give up on him. It’s a really unusual book.
And to bring this full circle – Jack Pendarvis has a blog shout-out to Peter DeVries, whom I discovered because his books were close to Patrick Dennis’s. Although that never got me to read Neil Shute’s ON THE BEACH when all the Max Shulman books were checked out. Which Pendarvis also indirectly references when he mentions Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! in an entry about me. I think I need to go lie down for a while.
While I take to my bed, I’d love to hear stories about books and movies that have aged better/worse than expected, or any serendipitous discoveries you might have made because of the alphabet.