Saturday, December 13, 2008

A JE Snr special (+ newsly items)

First things first, we wish cartloads of happy returns to John Ehle, who celebrates his birthday today! We thought this would be an apt time to draw attention to some of his achievements (of the literary variety at least) followed by a reminder of how you can lay your fine eyes on them.


  • What's the story?

It is 1815, and a North Carolina farmer heading home for the winter discovers a young slave girl and must decide whether to illegally help her gain freedom.

  • Adaptations?

Yes! It was turned (by John Ehle) into a 1995 film starring Thandie Newton and Sam Waterston no less. Britishers may have seen it broadcast in the last fortnight.

  • Is it good?

Apparently so. One viewer has written the following:

[...] I loved this movie. ... The Conflict and journey August faces reminds me a bit of the conversion of Francis of Assisi. It poses a question, "how much would you give, and how far would you go?" If you want a movie that will boost your hope, this is a movie for that. ... It has excellent immersion ... I think it is one of the best stories told in film. [...]
Meanwhile, all four Amazonian reviews of the book are extremely laudatory and furnish the full 5 stars - a story repeated in 10 of the 12 reviews of the film. The convinced and the yet-to-be-convinced should all take a peek.
  • Wow! They are good reviews. Ok, I want to read it / see it. Where do I get hold of it?

Amazon have the book, the film, and if you're feeling particularly enthusiastic, the poster.

  • What's the story?
Set in 1779, 'The Land Breakers' follows young Mooney and Imy Wright deep into the Appalachian wilderness where they become the first white pioneers to settle deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina. What ensues during these six years is an often violent struggle: first merely to survive and then to create a viable settlement, some human community that might last. For in this stark mountain fastness, each of the important characters-male and female alike-is seeking two things: family and community.
  • Adaptations?
Not that we're aware of.
  • Is it good?
Seems to be. The first line of the first Amazon review is:
[...] This is the first Ehle book I've read and I can say categorically that he richly deserves every award won, and more. [...]
See that link for seven variations on that theme. The book also led Harper Lee to call John Ehle 'our foremost writer of historical fiction'. (See the product description for evidence). The New York Times said in 1964 that the book had 'a rare degree of greatness'.
  • How can I get hold of it?
Very easily, via Amazon.

  • What's the story?
[...] While sitting in her 150-year-old cabin in the mountains of North Carolina at the beginning of the Depression, Collie Wright sees furtive figures emerging from the woods on a chilly, near-winter evening. The figures turn out to be clockmaker Wayland Jackson, a widower on his way to Tennessee to seek work, and his 12-year-old daughter, Paula. ... Collie allows them to stay the night, and Jackson is immediately taken with her. But she is an unmarried woman with a newborn baby and dark secrets. ... Jackson stays to build a clock tower for the community and to court Collie. But the father of Collie's child, a wild young man from a mountain clan long in conflict with her family, soon returns to claim his rights, and a violent showdown forces Collie into the most painful decision of her life. [...]
  • Adapted?

Yes, in 1989. Stars Kurt Russell.

  • Is it good?
No one has written an Amazon review, but based on the quality of the others, it looks like quite a safe bet.
  • Where can I get it?
Three guesses. (The book/the film)

  • That sounds like a large book. What's the story?
As it sounds really. 'The moving, searing story of the betrayal and brutal dispossession of the Cherokee Nation', quotes Amazon.
  • Adaptations?
We don't think so. But please correct us if you know otherwise.
  • Is it good?
New York Newsday called it a 'beautifully written and emotionally mature book . . . a must'. There are a few Amazonian nays, but these are outweighed by a majority of comprehensive and almost top-notch yays.

The first paragraph of one is particularly nice:
[...] John Ehle, a native son of North Carolina, has dedicated most of his life toward using his pen to bring to life the rich history of his birthstate. With Trail of Tears, he has succeeded again where so many others, in this day and age of political correctness and historical revisionism, have failed. Ehle's work is factually rich, it is obvious Mr. Ehle spent many hours in archives thoroughly researching the book's subject matter. The book's narrative structure is compelling, focusing on the role of several prominent families within the Cherokee Nation to animate the hierarchical structure of Cherokee society and the stratification of power therein. [...]
  • I want to part with roubles in exchange for this book. To whom do I give them?
How about Amazon?
  • I want to find out more about John Ehle. Where do I go?
You may want to check out our past posts which have the label 'John Ehle'. See the list on the right. Alternatively, the rest of the internet has a (few!) links. First, see Mr Ehle's page on publisher Press 53 for short but trustworthy info (and that lovely photo of Mr Ehle with the adorable-looking Joe Pye).

Alternatively see NC Writers or Wiki. John Ehle has written seventeen books altogether - eleven fiction and six non-fiction.

Other Posterly Business
  • Good news here today too. Theatermania announce that Oscar and the Pink Lady (see past posts) will begin a New York run next month. If you did not get a chance to see Rosemary Harris' one-woman performance in San Diego or New Jersey, head down to the Florence Gould Hall between January 16 and February 1st 2009.
  • Colin Farrell speaks to XPress about Pride and Glory, and describes the story as follows:

[...] A multiple murder has taken place on both sides of the law. Four officers have fallen in a raid that’s gone horribly wrong. There is basically a massacre at the start of the film. There’s an investigation and we find out that a few of the cops are dirty. It tears a family apart. By the end there is too much going on for each character. In fact, there are absolute consequences for everything that you see in the film. For every action that is taken there is a definite reaction. The consequences are very painful. [...]

  • BroadwayWorld and Playbill announce new projects for Martha Plimpton and David Harbour respectively.
  • Lastly, below is a rather nice photograph we have come across from Holocaust (1978), starring Rosemary Harris.