|Two more books toward my 2012 reading goal.|
Mr. Poitier was never one of my favourite actors but I do recall enjoying his movie, Lilies of the Field. I saw the movie as a child and remember enjoying it immensely. Mr. Poitier won an Oscar for his role as handyman Homer Smith, a man who helps refugee nuns build a chapel out in the desert somewhere. I think I was fascinated by the movie because where I grew up I'd never seen a black grown up, only two boys about my age who I didn't know personally. I was curious about these people because they were rarities in my world and we had no opportunities for association. I'd also seen two other Mr. Poitier films, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and To Sir With Love. I liked the latter movie more than the former, but didn't really pay much attention to either of them.
In the last year or so, I happened upon another of Mr. Poitier's movies which I did not see as a child. It is called A Patch of Blue. This movie appealed to me even more than Lilies of the Field. In the movie, the character, Selina D'Arcy is a blind, white girl who meets a black man, Gordon Ralfe, played by Sidney Poitier and falls in love with him. Although his brother strongly advises Gordon to tell Selina that he is black, Gordon refuses to do so. Problems arise when Selina's mother, played by Shelley Winters, learns about Gordon and Selina's relationship and forbids her daughter from being with Gordon because he is black. Gordon doesn't reciprocate Selina's love but views her as a friend and he is dedicated to helping her. The movie ends in an interesting way.
Anyway, back to the memoirs. I've long wondered about the details of Mr. Poitier's life and his acting career which developed at a time in American history when it could not have been easy, an understatement to say the least, to have been a black man or a black actor. This was the reason I picked up The Measure of a Man. I wanted to know where Mr. Poitier came from, how he got into acting, and how he managed to retain his grace and dignity during times of racial turbulence and how he managed to thrive as an actor despite the lack of opportunities for black people.
I'm learning how he grew up on Cat Island in the Bahamas and made it to New York via Nassau and Miami, where he started his acting career on the stage, before moving to Hollywood to continue a career in motion pictures. It is fascinating to have insight into the times from the eyes of this veteran actor and to learn how easily his life could have ended up so much differently.
I'm still reading the book and while I haven't formulated all my conclusions, one thing jumps out at me, and that is is how seemingly "accidental" it was that Mr. Poitier became an actor at all. Another thing I've learned is how his childhood, and way of life on Cat Island, really shaped him for the better and influenced how he conducted his life and made decisions through his life time. On Cat Island you see, he was not a racial minority. Everyone was more or less like him and his family, and that had a lot to do with how he continued to view the world and his place in it when he got to America. Mr. Poitier is a man of wisdom and strength and one thing he says in his book which I think is a good lesson for us all is:
I've learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me. I have to try to find a way to channel that anger to the positive, and the highest positive is forgiveness. (p. 128)So far, it's a fascinating read.
My friend, Caroline at Lonicera's World, sent me a book entitled, Jennie by Paul Gallico. It arrived from England in the post on Friday and I immediately began to read it. It is a delightful little book about a boy named Peter who desperately wants to own a cat but is not allowed to because his nanny suffers from allergies. Peter has a terrible accident and when he awakes he finds himself transformed into a cat. His nanny immediately throws him out of the apartment and he is confronted by the mean spiritedness of human beings on the outside, as well as other animals. He runs hither and thither until exhausted, he collapses ,and is rescued by a feline named, Jennie, who takes him under her paws and teaches him how to become a cat.
This delightful little book is written by Paul Gallico, who I've read, owned 23 cats of his own. Mr. Gallico has really been able to capture the behaviors of cats and describes them in a way that is completely understandable even to those that are unfamiliar with cats. When Jennie describes the rules about washing for example, I could not help but think about my former cat and how she used to wash herself and in what circumstances she would wash. The Jennie in the book says, "When in doubt, wash!".
With these two books almost completed, I will soon be able to add a few more books to my reading goal for the year.
How about you dear reader?
Have you set reading goals for 2012 and if yes, how are you progressing on them?