reading

groundhogs, Ismay, Conrad and thank you

Happy Groundhog Day!

Today, we’re going to have a Groundhog Day marathon in honor of the occasion.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s one of those movies that focuses, not on the girl, though it starts off as a typical “can’t stand each other” comedy romance, but on the reason we’re living.  And it’s all done by revisiting the same day again…and again…and again until you become as sick of that Sonny and Cher song as the main character.

I’ve spent some time rethinking my writing plan/schedule and reading something that wasn’t on my to-read list:  How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson.  (I get no compensation in any form from linking to Amazon.)  It covers his childhood, his time at the White Star Line, the sinking of the Titanic, the inquisitions and lawsuits afterward, and the last years of his life.  It’s an interesting study simply because he didn’t leave much in the way of his own thoughts behind.  As a result, Ms. Wilson brings in Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, the only author at that time to speak at length regarding the events surrounding the Titanic without being asked.  She uses this character as a means of examining the choice between ideals and practicality, honor and shame, life and death:  the same choice Ismay and others on the Titanic faced.

There’s some new information in this book I didn’t know, including the correspondence after the wreck between Ismay and Mrs. Thayer and the fact that the Titanic was actually owned by J.P. Morgan who had his own designated quarters on board.  Overall, it succeeds very well at three things.  First, it highlights the chaos, not only during the shipwreck, but in the memories of those who survived it.  Second, it illustrates beautifully the theatrical nature of the American inquiry, an event that occurred the very next day.  (Not that the British inquiry was much better…it just had a different motive/purpose so it was by nature less showy.)  Finally, it is one of the most introspective and fair critiques of J. Bruce Ismay I have ever read.

On a completely unrelated note, thank you to those who liked my story.  It really made me smile.

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