Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Quaint Bookshop, and Sally Field

When I was in Chiswick on Saturday I popped into this independent bookstore on the high street. I love this place. I stopped in there years ago and bought a copy of A. E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad," and I've often wondered since whether it was still in business. So I was glad to see that it is, and just as stuffed with old books and artwork as I remember.

This time, I browsed that little shelf to the left of the door -- the bargain books, basically -- and came away with one by Nancy Mitford and one by Radclyffe Hall. Hall's 1928 book "The Well of Loneliness," which I read years ago, is one of the bedrock books of LGBT literature. The one I just bought, "Adam's Breed," doesn't seem to have a gay theme but it looks interesting nonetheless.

I also picked up a book from the 1920s or 1930s called "London Shown to the Children." Every page features a photo of a London landmark with a short narrative description -- everything from Nelson's column and Parliament to the dinosaur skeletons in the Natural History Museum. I suppose if you lived elsewhere in Britain and you wanted your kids to have some familiarity with the capital, but you couldn't afford to take them there yourself, you'd give them this book.

Speaking of books, I'm enjoying Sally Field's autobiography, "In Pieces." It's interesting because it focuses almost entirely on her early years and her family -- I'm around 300 pages in and she's only up to "Sybil." I didn't know much about her early TV career, having never watched "Gidget" (it only ran for one season!) or "The Flying Nun," but I sought out episodes of both those shows on YouTube and got a quick cultural education.

Here's a screen grab from the "Gidget" episode I watched. Look at the size of that refrigerator!

As for "The Flying Nun," I really can't say much positive about that. And neither does Field, who never wanted to do the show and was basically talked into it by her stepfather and the producers. (I watched this episode, which is interesting only if you're into "Star Trek" -- it features a guest appearance by Celia Lovsky, the actress who played Vulcan leader T'Pau in an episode of the original series.)

I do remember "Sybil," which was a phenomenon when I was a kid. I remember talking about it with the girls down the street when it aired in 1976 -- trying to name and describe all of Sybil's 16 personalities. We were fascinated by the idea that one human being could embody so many distinct, unintegrated identities. I believe Sybil's story has been mostly discredited since then, at least in psychiatric circles, but it made for good TV. Ah, the '70s!

Anyway, Field has some harrowing stories to tell about her dysfunctional family, her mother's alcoholism and the roaming hands of her stepfather, but she seems to have maintained a remarkably level head through it all. I've long admired her as an actress so it's interesting to read about her roots.


  1. "Foster Books"...I wonder if that refers to the owner - someone called Foster - or perhaps it is a piece of advice - to acquire and care for books. To foster - "encourage the development of something, especially something desirable".

  2. I love the look of that bookstore and I believe I could spend hours there and probably many dollars lol! I have always admired Sally Fields easy going down to earth bubbly personality, she has lead an interesting life and has maintained a positive outlook on life,

  3. I love the definition of foster that YP just gave in connection to a bookstore!

    Foster Books!
    Foster Reading!

  4. John Gray is reading that book too!
    What a lovely looking shop.

  5. I wish that whenever I think of Sally Field I didn't automatically think of her "You really like me..." Oscar speech. Can't help it though, my brain goes right to it. She really was/is a fine actress. Nice bookshop.

  6. Some funky little book stores survive. They must have something going for them like the outdoor display.

  7. I'm back from New York...what a week. It is certainly a city with a lot to offer but I was surprised how much worse the traffic has become. It's almost total gridlock. My friend kept wanting to take cabs and I kept telling her it would be faster to walk.
    I've been curious about Sally Field's new book so I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it. I read the book "Sybil" before the movie was made and I remember it as roller-coaster of emotions. They did a good job making the movie. Foster Books sounds like a wonderful place to browse for books. I love the look of the place.

  8. I liked Sally Field in Norma Rae.

  9. You had me at "quaint bookshop". If I had gone in with you I'd probably still be there. I understand Field had some rather harsh comments about Burt Reynolds in her book. Late in his life he still seemed unaware of his conduct, saying she was STILL the love of his life.

  10. glad to know that small bookstores are still viable.

  11. Yes it is an interesting read and well written.
    The abuse at the hands of the cinematic Tarzan ( her stepdad) made for a difficult read.

    She's remarkably honest

  12. I wasn't aware of Fields' background, just that she was a talented actress. I think my favourite of her movies was Forrest Gump, actually. I know she wasn't the main character but she was A main character. I think I'll be watching for a second-hand copy of this book, because I'm too cheap to buy it at full price :)

  13. Wow, you are the second person to recommend Sally Field's memoir to me today. I guess I've got to read it.

  14. YP: could be either one, I suppose!

    Laurie: Yeah, I purposely didn't spend a lot of time in that bookshop because I was afraid how much I might spend!

    Jennifer: Always a goal, especially for a librarian!

    Ms Moon: I know! When I saw that he bought it I thought, "Wow, it's like we're in a book club!"

    Robin: Unfortunately, that's one of those incidents where the parodies have overshadowed the actual event. She was saying in her speech that she hasn't had an orthodox career and she often has self-doubts, but winning a second Oscar she can't deny that "You like me! Right now! You like me!" The context helps make it less stupid-sounding. She actually didn't even mention the speech in her book. If anyone wants to watch it in full, here it is:

    Red: I'm sure that outdoor display helps. That's where I bought the books I brought home!

    Sharon: I later read the book "Sybil," too, and it was fascinating. That's interesting about NYC and the traffic, because they have congestion pricing and that's supposed to bring down the quantity of traffic in central Manhattan. I always found cabs to be slower than the subway in NYC -- or even walking, as you said.

    Colette: Me too! That was a great movie, and it really broke her cutesy image.

    Catalyst: Yeah, she portrayed that relationship as something of a trap for her. He was dismissive of her career choices (including Norma Rae) and apparently demanded a lot from her personally.

    Ellen: Apparently! We have one in West Hampstead, too, and I don't go there nearly as much as I should.

    John: She is amazingly honest, and self-aware too. Apparently her youngest son is gay, which I learned not from the book but from reading about her online.

    Jenny-O: She's good in literally everything. Did you see "Lincoln" a few years ago? She was excellent as Mary Todd Lincoln, and apparently she really had to fight for that part.

    37P: You might like it especially, given the biographical and autobiographical writing you do. Apparently Field wrote this book herself, which is pretty impressive, though I suppose like any author she had editors massaging it!