I spent yesterday afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with a friend who, upon looking at this famous  John Singer Sargent painting of the Boit sisters, commented, "I am almost embarrassed that I love this painting."  I knew what she meant—that the painting is so famous, so well-loved, that it is almost a cliché, like a Hallmark commercial.  But what the heck. I love it too. For one thing, aside from the incredible composition, there is a great deal of mystery within it: the shadows, the turned-away girl. One could look at this painting for a very, very long time and come away still wondering (even if you read the recent book —the name of which I have sadly forgotten—about the Boit family and the unhappy lives of these four girls).

I spent four days last week in New York, always a treat (and I went three nights in a row to the theater). On Saturday afternoon was the very well-attended event honoring the 50th anniversary of the publication of A WRINKLE IN TIME.  Prior to the beginning of the event, Madeline L'Engle's granddaughter Charlotte (I'm sorry that I have forgotten her last name) gave each of the speakers a remarkable gift: a journal with the cover made from the fabric of the curtains from L'Engle's writing room.

 

 

Katherine Paterson said she was going to give hers to her daughter Mary, who was/is a passionate L'Engle fan.  My problem is that I have two daughters, each of whom remembers A WRINKLE IN TIME with enormous fondness. So I am going to keep the journal for myself. Hah.

The actress Jane Curtin gave quite a wonderful reading from the book; and Leonard Marcus read an excerpt from an upcoming book he has written about L'Engle. Betsy Bird from the NYPL was host/moderator and the other panelists, along with Katherine and me, were Rebecca Stead and R. L. Stine.

Tuesday evening I began re-watching the remarkable series called HOMELAND with three friends who had not seen it. Starting right with Episode 1!  We watched two that night and will do the next two next Tuesday. It is a very well-acted and very well-written series; but the thing I noticed this time, when I didn't have to pay so much attention to PLOT, was the pacing. Just when a situation becomes almost intolerably tense, the scene changes, and the viewer can catch his breath, slow down, start revving up for the next heart-stopping moments. Same with good books, I think. The right pacing is essential.

And speaking of pacing: today, in the middle of wonderful outings to theaters and museums, I must call a halt to the excitement. I must slow down, sigh, and turn my attention to taxes.