May 9, 2019 Page 5
By Roz Templin, Library Assistant,
El Segundo Public Library
Irish immigrant Olivia Givens tells an
expansive story of her life after landing in
Cincinnati, Ohio in 1819. She and her parents,
with her brothers James and Erasmus, sailed
to America “to pray and prosper.” Almost
immediately Olivia loses her possessions, her
mother and soon her father. The Givens boys
and she were left by themselves to scrape up
a living between them.
The siblings live in a boarding house, and
James begins a slow climb to self-reliance
through candle-making. Younger brother
Erasmus helps out and Olivia begins to tutor
some of the local children. Erasmus experiences
a spiritual awakening and tries his hand
at being a traveling preacher. He departs
from his siblings to the wilds of Kentucky,
across the river.
James marries a local businessman’s daughter,
Hatsepha. Erasmus finds himself married,
then a father, then widowed. Olivia, James
and Hatsepha take in William, Erasmus’s
motherless son, when it becomes plain that
Erasmus feels the pull of the river back to
his itinerant preaching.
Olivia is a woman who chafes at the conventions
of the times and feels out of place.
She meets a physician and man of science,
Silas Orpheus, never guessing how their lives
will soon be entwined.
The “peculiar institution” of slavery
becomes the backdrop for the Givens’ family
story. Each character has a particular
viewpoint and through reversals of all
kinds, experiences heartache and frustration
due to the relationships they have with slaves
and slave-holders. Criminal activity as well as
many forms of intrigue give flavor to this saga
of black and white and the many shades of
grey that color perspective and belief. Olivia
holds fast to her own values and risks mortal
danger many times to do what she thinks is
right. Her courage endures and makes the following
generations wiser and stronger.
The book on CD format provides a richer
interpretation thanks to the narration and vocal
characterizations of actress Cassandra Campbell.
Ms. Campbell invents a slight brogue for
Olivia and manages to convey the difference in
gender and age of the other people in her story.
The author, Terry Gamble, reveals that her
own ancestors emigrated first from Scotland,
then to Northern Ireland, and finally to Cincinnati
in 1819. She became interested in her
family history while she was sorting through
items such as correspondence and photos belonging
to her parents. While researching the
history behind this tale, she found herself lurking
in historical societies and museums, speaking
with historians, reenactors and librarians. She
attended Civil War meetings and toured the
Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Her
account of her research on her website fills in
some blanks about the characters in her book,
who are vividly real. Many of them, it seems,
are based on actual people whose stories she
unearthed. If you are interested in historical
fiction, I suggest you seek out this book. •
Check It Out
The Eulogist by Terry Gamble
The Eulogist by Terry Gamble.
the Tribeca Film Festival
By Morgan and Ryan Rojas
Although this is his first feature, you
may already be familiar with this director’s
work. Nabil Elderkin – or just Nabil, as he
is more widely known – is the man responsible
Gully, Courtesy of Tribeca Institute Standing Up, Falling Down, Courtesy of Tribeca Institute
for the aesthetically brilliant music
videos for the likes of Kanye West, Bon Iver
and countless others cultural icons of the
moment. Nabil takes the same cinematicallystyled
approach as he does in his music videos
to bring screenwriter Marcus J. Guillory’s
emotionally-drenched drama, Gully, to life.
Gully is billed as a “slightly dystopian
version of LA.” While there is truth in
that observation, the dystopia isn’t a farfetched
depiction of chaos. It’s all rooted in reality,
which makes for an even more affecting
watch. Best friends Jesse (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.),
Calvin (Jacob Latimore) and Nicky (Charlie
Plummer) live within blocks of each other on
the streets of South Central LA and all come
from troubled backgrounds. They may have
been forced to grow up prematurely, but these
are still young boys in need of a childhood,
trying to figure out who they are and where
they’re going amidst the chaos and unfair
dealings that life has in store for them.
Standing Up, Falling Down
If Ben Braddock of The Graduate had a
wise-cracking older mentor in his life to help
guide him through the anxiety of post-graduate
adulthood – and if that mentor was the inimitable
Billy Crystal – you might get something similar
to Standing Up, Falling Down, a feel-good
buddy comedy about the unlikely friendship
between an unsuccessful young comedian and
his life-affirming dermatologist.
With his career going nowhere fast, stand-up
comedian Scott (Ben Schwartz) leaves L.A.
to move back in with his parents in Eastern
Long Island. At 34, it hits on a certain anxiety
of this millennial generation that feels honest.
Now home, Scott is forced to confront the
life he left behind for the dreams of L.A.
– and the people he left, including sister
(Grace Gummer) and ex-girlfriend (Eloise
Mumford). In his grief state which warrants
a medical check-up, he meets the karaokeloving
dermatologist, Marty (Billy Crystal).
It’s not long before Marty’s natural cheer
mixes with Scott’s cynical self, and the two
find themselves getting along – having drinks,
smoking pot, hanging out and without knowing
it helping each other move on from a rut.
Come to Daddy
The funniest and wildest movie we saw at
Come to Daddy, Courtesy of Tribeca Institute
the Tribeca Film Festival this year was the
suggestively-titled Come to Daddy, a film whose
dark comedy made for a perfect inclusion in the
midnight section of films. What starts out as a
slowly built, dry comedy of the uncomfortable
reunion between a son (Elijah Wood) and his
estranged father (Stephen McHattie) ends up
being a wonderfully insane and absurd film
that is sure to make audiences laugh. •
Morgan Rojas Ryan Rojas.
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