Screening Room: Family Pictures

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Yet, I was not highly disturbed by his acknowledgment confession. One, because he did confess, and didn't try to hide those facts.

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Two, possibly because of something he said in an interview with a Memphis paper about this book. He said: "But I think writers only get in trouble when they're not honest with the reader. I finally figured out the reason I did so was because I thought both the authors were lying in their books--big, big time lying!

And that is exactly what I feel Alan Lightman is not doing in his memoir. He is not lying. He is telling the truth as well as he knows it, and he appears to be an insightful observer of life, including his own life. Mar 07, Robert Miller rated it really liked it. In this memoir, Lightman writes about his upper class and privileged upbringing in Memphis, a standard created virtually single-hand'edly by his grandfather, M. Lightman, the founder of a vast enterprise of movie theaters in the area.

He cautiously writes about the contrasting social status between the elite and black people, including the servants retained by his grandfather and his own family in a memorable and empathetic fashion. I was drawn to the personal relationship that Lightman formed In this memoir, Lightman writes about his upper class and privileged upbringing in Memphis, a standard created virtually single-hand'edly by his grandfather, M.

I was drawn to the personal relationship that Lightman formed with Blanche, a black and religious women who tended to all their household needs including making meals, ironing and cleaning. He remained close to Blanche until her death- 3 days apart from his mother's death. He writes about the traditional cultural values of the South, the architecture, food, music, and discrimination and the slow transition towards equality- all in a intriguing and often familial and anecdotal style; he uses fictional portrayal very sparingly and accounts for this in the "Acknowledgments" notations at the end of the book.

The book is sad in the sense that, starting with his grandfather, and then his father, the men seemed to make their women the victims of unrequited love. Even though only a small sector of readers could possibly relate to the style of life the author reminiscences about, I can recommend this book. Lightman comes to terms with both the beautiful and the profane in the city of his youth, Memphis. Very interesting character studies of his relatives and even of the city itself as a character.

I'm a huge fan of his lyrical style, though nothing can ever compare with Einstein's Dreams , a true work of literary art, but there were a couple passages toward the end where Lightman finally really opens up about his relationship with his father and some beautiful insights about life, death and th Lightman comes to terms with both the beautiful and the profane in the city of his youth, Memphis. I'm a huge fan of his lyrical style, though nothing can ever compare with Einstein's Dreams , a true work of literary art, but there were a couple passages toward the end where Lightman finally really opens up about his relationship with his father and some beautiful insights about life, death and the nature of time.

One I especially liked: Underneath this concrete there once was a pond. What is real? If the past is all that is real, because it is all that is reputed to have actually happened, then it cannot be real because it shifts and contorts in our mind. If the present is all that is real, then it too is not real, for it slips to the past as quickly as a breath.

I look up to see three children kicking a red ball across the street. In a second they will be old.


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Jun 28, Mike rated it really liked it Shelves: southern-us , essays , memoir. The funeral of the author's uncle is the jumping off point for this wonderful memoir about growing up in Memphis in the 50s and 60s. Alan Lightman is the grandson of MA Lightman, wealthy owner of a chain of movie theaters that started in Memphis and spread throughout the south.

Lots of good stuff here about the relationship between parents and their children and how that changes at different stages of our lives. The Lightman family was Jewish in the Jim Crow south so there's reflections on race The funeral of the author's uncle is the jumping off point for this wonderful memoir about growing up in Memphis in the 50s and 60s. The Lightman family was Jewish in the Jim Crow south so there's reflections on race and religion. And being Memphis, Elvis even makes an appearance or two.

I'd have given it five stars but I was disappointed to read in the acknowledgements that a couple of the characters including one of the most entertaining were fictional. I know it must be difficult to discuss family history some of it not always pleasant and be totally historically accurate but I'm not sure why the author felt the need to invent characters when the actual family story is already fascinating. But that caveat aside, it is a very good book and I recommend it.

Dec 19, Bob Pearson rated it liked it.

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Alan Lightman, Screening Room

This is a nostalgia book and appealing to me because I know Memphis and know people who recall the days of the 50's when the Lightman family were so prominent. It's an excellent read of the times seen through Lightman's mature vision, a life experience that many white Southerners have passed through as they look back at times that in today's world are hard to comprehend. There are also plenty of movie stars, some nice vignettes of Elvis Presley just arriving in Memphis to record songs, and other This is a nostalgia book and appealing to me because I know Memphis and know people who recall the days of the 50's when the Lightman family were so prominent.

There are also plenty of movie stars, some nice vignettes of Elvis Presley just arriving in Memphis to record songs, and other perspectives on a time before the transformation of Southern life, politics and society in the 60's. Mar 11, christinemm rated it liked it.

View 1 comment. Jan 15, Corey rated it it was amazing. A beautifully written, heartfelt memoir about families, Memphis and the movies. Mar 10, Linda rated it really liked it. Loved this book. Absolutely hate that some characters and incidents are slightly fictionalized for effect. View all 3 comments. Aug 05, Aftan rated it liked it.

Harmony Gold Screening Room Pictures and Photos - Getty Images

It took me a bit to get used to the essay style format; at first it felt choppy and I struggled with the flow of the story. Once I got use to this the story was interesting and kept me engaged enough to finish the book in a day. It is always interesting to learn the life stories of others and the author did not dissapoint.

At times I could hear the accent of those telling the story and felt like I was sitting with my family reliving family history. I do wish more color was added to the stories a It took me a bit to get used to the essay style format; at first it felt choppy and I struggled with the flow of the story. I do wish more color was added to the stories at times.

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I was also dissapointed with the lack of pictures that I would hope a book like this would share. The thing that bugged me the most though was at the very end. Stories relating to these characters are for the most part true but have been embroidered by the vagaries of memory and the impulse for drama. Other Lightman characters are loosely based on members Lennie and Nate are fictatious. I can see changing names and even tweaking stories a bit.

I can however not wrap my head around fictatious characters. Mar 06, Brittany rated it liked it. I think I should have liked this more as I usually enjoy stories related to the movie industry, but this was a bit boring as an audiobook. Maybe it was the tone of the guy reading it? Lightman definitely has an interesting family--I particularly loved the glamour and eccentricity of all the women in his family.

However, it was hard for me to keep track of the people and his stories. I also had some problems remembering that his well-to-do Jewish movie industry family lived in the south and not L I think I should have liked this more as I usually enjoy stories related to the movie industry, but this was a bit boring as an audiobook. I also had some problems remembering that his well-to-do Jewish movie industry family lived in the south and not LA.

I kept thinking they were talking about Hollywood with many of the same restaurant and hotel names until he starts to talk about southern food, Elvis Presley, and southern race relations. I think the author writes well and maybe it would be better to get in print format. Jun 10, Birgitte rated it really liked it. Great storytelling. I enjoy the main character's voice.


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  7. This book is mostly a family memoir, but I guess also a novel because some characters and events are the inventions of the author. I'll keep this one on my bookshelf to read again. Jul 01, Robin rated it liked it. Tempted to give this four stars. A walk down memory lane with Lightman--through his family "album" in Memphis. Sweet family memoir with an historical backdrop. I like this guy--will read some of his other work. May 16, Linh rated it liked it Shelves: read-in I really enjoyed the way this blended essay with memoir and fiction, a really way to tell your family's story without boring anyone.

    May 07, Jill Meyer rated it liked it. I've read many memoirs and have felt that they are books that usually don't NEED to be written - the world can surely get along without a memoir - but that they are usually enjoyable reading.

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    A good memoir writer sheds light on the people and events in his or her life and makes connections between those people and those events, thus making sense of their life. But not all memoirs should be published.