Perhaps learning more about my parents' childhoods and looking at photo after photo of them around the Depression era have opened the door for my newfound fascination. Certainly Papa's passage has inspired me to find out all I can about his life at that time, and I'm beginning to ask my mom more and more about her recollections of those years as well.
Anyway, when friends recommended the HBO series, Carnavale, to me, I netflix-ed it as something worthy to watch during the winter months. I was immediately hooked, fascinated by the Dust Bowl period, the traveling circus, and the paranormal aspects of the series. Actually two stories interweave and ultimately come together in the second season, and without giving away too much information, I'll just say that there are very dark and haunting events that culminate in a powerful close to season two. I totally understand why a third season might have been too much for television viewers; this series deals with some pretty heady, heavy stuff, including a charismatic minister, Brother Justin, who is possessed by the devil and a young man, Ben Hawkins, who has the power of healing and is adopted by the circus show. The series just might even have been too much for non-mainstream TV; however, I thought Carnavale was engrossing, provocative, and fascinating.
In keeping with the roguish aspect of Carnavale, my lastest read has been Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen). Again, the book centers around a traveling big-top show as told in flashbacks from the show's vet who is now 90 and in a nursing home. It's as sordid at moments as Carnavale, but I couldn't put it down. Jacob Jankowski, a student in veterinary medicine at Cornell who is forced to leave school when both parents are unexpectedly killed in an accident, Marlena, the woman with whom he is deeply in love, her brutal husband, Auggie, Walter, one of the show's dwarf clowns, and Rosie, the elephant who understand Polish, keep popping in and out of my thoughts frequently since I finished the book.
And just this morning, Eliza and I watched Atonement, another 1930's period piece. Artfully crafted and composed, this movie (like Carnavale and Water for Elephants) is a story within a story, and the final scenes define the movie's title. I won't say too much more for those who haven't seen the movie, but it is well worth the watch. Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy rightfully deserve acclaim for their performances, as do the actresses who portray the younger sister, Briony. (I don't recall their names.)
If anyone has suggestions for a good cinematic or literary follow-up to these works, please leave a comment. I'd like to read and see more, and I'm totally up for suggestions.
I hope the sun's out wherever you are....Namasté