After rather involved February and March posts, the intent was to have been concise through April. Content will still be shorter but the subjects have changed.

    April 2014 is the centenary of French author Marguerite Duras’ birth. Best known here for her book The Lover (most guys watched the movie version to ogle a gloriously naked Jane March), Duras also collaborated on the Hiroshima, Mon Amour script, a cinematic feat that set intellectuals, and those who adore their brilliance, swooning.

    Another of her fictions, Ten-Thirty on a Summer Night, also reached the screen. Linear to Hiroshima’s randomness, star-power presences of Melina Mercouri, Romy Schneider and Peter Finch bolster Night. Besides, the love triangle engaging these three transpires in Spain. Spain translates better upon Western sensibilities than Japan. 

    The title best exemplifying Duras’ artistry Americans know as The War: A Memoir. Almost directly countering Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins, The War’s French have actively resisted their German occupiers. While de Beauvoir’s elites sat out World War II fairly unruffled, many of Duras’ combatants pay dearly for liberation.

     Both stories are without glory.

     Cool resignation glides through The Mandarins, a leisurely tome. Nearly void of sympathy and brusquely told, Duras retains a cool detachment. Her dispatch-like chapters harry past subjugation, struggle, settling accounts, and conclude with exhausted repatriation. Knowing the real-life postscript to The War begs whether all efforts and sacrifices further burdened the ultimate personal fate.

    The Lover plumbed intimacy and its questions. The War exacted ambivalent fidelity.

    April’s second dislodged post would’ve been way simpler. Asking had Elvis Presley died instead of Buddy Holly in 1959, how might their juxtaposed lives have affected music and pop culture? Elvis was an idol; Holly was a top-notch lyricist who had chops.

    Sure, Elvis cavorted with saucy Ann Margret. But not in Clambake. In that 1967 film, he serenaded polenta Shelly Fabares. The soundtrack, starting with the title song, was insipid. How many more piercing standards like Peggy Sue Got Married did Holly’s early death snatch from our Classic Rock Songbook? Who can imagine Buddy Holly singing Clambake?

    On Sunday, You Are the Quarry.