Travel Log May 2007

I’ve returned from my vacation to North Carolina renewed and refreshed.  During my time away…

1. I discovered Graham Greene makes for shockingly good beach reading.  His Tenth Man, with all its wartime noir and identity swapping, would’ve made a splendid plot for an Alfred Hitchcock film.

2. I grew closer to starting my next novel.  The change of scenery inspired some detailed outlining and the genesis of character names.  The opening line is just around the corner. 

3.  I nursed a bad sunburn on my forearms.  Ironically it was from time spent at a Phillies’ game the weekend prior and not from any time on the beach.

4. I traipsed around some old haunts with some old friends.  Thankfully that first place we erroneously stepped into on Wrightsville Beach was not our beloved Dockside, and that wonderful establishment still stands as is a few buildings down the road with a much improved menu.  It’s funny how memory plays tricks on you and you swear something was right here when in fact it was always over there.  Check out http://www.docksidelife.com for more on this great spot if you plan to visit the area.

5. I attended a lovely wedding with an overflowing open bar.  Jack Daniels, my old friend, it had been too long!

6. And divine joy of fast-food joys–I dined at Bojangles twice–gotta lotta flava’ y’all!

The following pictures were all taken at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and the surrounding Wilmington area.  Continue reading

Where Can you Find your Maker?

HOT NEWS!

Upon just arriving home from vacation (stay tuned for an upcoming travel log), I’ve learned that THE THIEF MAKER is now “in-stock” at some additional Barnes & Noble locations in the greater Philadelphia area.

In addition to being in stock and on the shelves at the Marlton and Moorestown, New Jersey locations, steady sales mean my novel will now also be in stock at the Deptford, New Jersey location and also in the Philadelphia and Valley Forge locations in Pennsylvania.  If you go to any of these locations to pick up a copy and they are out of stock, tell them to order more.  It means a local author is selling and they should jump on the bandwagon.

Thanks to all who are helping my grass-roots campaign to turn THE THIEF MAKER into a success!  If you are among those who live in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area and have not been able to purchase a copy because you prefer not to shop on-line, now you have no reason not to get a copy!

An ambitious, intricately structured novel that resonates with emotion and suspense,” heralds Daniel Jolley, an Amazon.com Top 50 Reviewer.

“Schleicher has done a good job of creating a mystery that is mysterious, thought-provoking, entertaining, and sometimes shocking,” hails Joe Graham from ReaderViews.com.

Purchase Now from Barnes and Noble

Purchase Now from Amazon.com

A Review of Irene Nemirovsky’s “Suite Francaise”

Suite Française

  A Mirror of a Nation at its Darkest Hour

Reviewer: David H. Schleicher –  See all my reviews

In her depiction of a society unraveling at a time of war, Irene Nemirovsky, in ways both lyrical and cynical, shows the human condition made up not only of great suffering, but also moments of lucid and concise joy. Her Suite Francaise, showcasing the early days of the German invasion and occupation of France during WWII, is one of the greatest novels I have ever had the pleasure to read.

In the first half, “Storm in June,” her depiction of Parisian refugees forging their way through bombed-out hamlets, abandoned villages, and small towns bulging at the seems with the broken-hearted, wounded, and lost, her vivid descriptions of the French countryside…the sites, the smells, the sounds, the plants and animals…are intoxicating, meditative, and transcendent. There’s planes flying overhead, blood splattered on cobble-stone walkways, children orphaned, women widowed, and death all around…yet there’s moments of striking beauty in small intimate interludes (like the section told from the point-of-view of a refugee cat from a wealthy family sneaking out for the night before a morning air-raid) where Nemirovsky haunts us with her prose and imagery.

The second half, “Dolce,” doesn’t have the immediacy of “Storm”, but still works shockingly well on many levels. Here she depicts the inhabitants of one small rural French village and how they react to their German occupiers. Nemirovsky displays an acute sense to detail and social interaction by giving us a harrowing view of the different class structures at work and how they react differently to each other and to their oppressors and how a fatalistic sentimental sense of national pride often leads to rash decisions and unlikely unifications. She again reaches some transcendence in her soft yet never sappy look at the burgeoning relationship between a lonely young wife of a missing POW and the charming German officer quartering in her mother-in-law’s house.

Knowing the back-story to Nemirovsky’s tragic life certainly adds some emotional heft to the reading but isn’t necessary to recognize the genius or enjoy this beautiful English translation from the original French. Waxing poetically about what could’ve been had she lived to turn this into the epic five-part novel she originally planned boggles the mind. The presentation of notes, outlines, and personal letters servicing that fact make for a heartbreaking bookend. Let there be no doubt, however, the two parts that remain are nothing short of a literary masterpiece, and the legacy they will leave in the canon of classic novels about WWII boldly display Nemirovsky’s triumph over death through the power of her words. Nemirovsky proves to be a master of shifting points-of-view and intertwining stories in episodic fashion while wickedly mixing comedy and tragedy, and the lofty ideals of war and peace with the banality and small joys and pains of everyday life. As two parts of a larger unfinished whole, Suite Francaise will leave you breathless.

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See below for my review of Fire in the Blood:

https://davethenovelist.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/a-review-of-irene-nemirovskys-fire-in-the-blood/

The End of an Era in Philadelphia and South Jersey Film Going

This weekend marks the first “official” weekend of new ownership of the Ritz Film Group.  Once operating three theaters in Philadelphia and one multiplex in my hometown of Voorhees, the Ritz was one of the only locally owned art-house theater chains left in the United States.  Known for showing films of distinction, and beloved by its loyal patrons for its classy decor, fantastic popcorn, and sensible rules (no kids under 6, and no kids 6-16 without an adult present, no commercials before the films, and classical music and local art scene slides playing before the trailers), the Ritz was a true institution in Philly and South Jersey.  They are the only theaters I know of where people don’t go to see any particular film; they simply go because they know any film showing at the Ritz will be unique and something to talk about.  I can still remember seeing my first Ritz film at the original Ritz Five in Philly, Much Ado About Nothing.  My first film at the Ritz in Voorhees was The English Patient.  One of the primary reasons I decided to settle in Voorhees a few years ago was the presence of the Ritz 16, knowing that nowhere else would I be able to enjoy independent films, foreign titles, and the latest Hollywood blockbuster under one roof.

Sadly, the owner of the Ritz decided to sell.  The three Philly locations were sold to Landmark, the only national chain dedicated to art-house fare.  Hopefully little will change at these locations.  The Ritz 16, on the other hand, was sold to National Amusements (the chain responsible for IMAX).  They, too, promise to continue showing a combination of mainstream films and the types of distinct entertainment the audience of the Ritz has come to love. 

This weekend, their first under new management, the Ritz 16 is showing Spiderman 3 on 4 screens, and traditional art-house Ritz films on 6 screens.  These numbers seem acceptable, and hopefully they will see the advantage of continuing to cater to the loyal patrons of “movies to talk about.” 

Here’s a list of things I can live with under the new management of the Ritz 16:

-The change in name to “Showcase at the Ritz”

-The inevitable higher ticket and concession prices

-The inevitable onslaught of corporate sponsored advertising in the slides before the trailers

Here’s what I can’t live with:

-Catering to the kids (please no Disney or animated films)

-A slow decline in the number of screens dedicated to art-house cinema

-Commercials and loud music in front of the trailers

-Any significant change in the decor or the menu at the concession stands (please, we love our non-Starbucks owned gourmet coffee stand and Toblerone candy).

So it seems for now, all is not lost…just slightly changed.  Let’s continue to support the distinct films the “new Ritz” continues to show to prove to the new owners big profits can be made by not changing the line-up too drastically, lest our worst fears come to life. 

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For some excellent follow-up on this troubling topic check out this active thread on one of Carrie Rickey’s blogs:

http://blogs.phillynews.com/inquirer/flickgrrl/2007/03/movie_shrines_ritz_theaters_to_be_acquired_by_landmark.html