1) I saw Ian McEwan read from his new novel, Solar, last week at a packed Folger. Haven't read it yet but the chapter he read - very convincingly! - sounded fascinating. The last question of the Q&A was, Can you tell us how you came up with the structure of Atonementand especially the ending? Wow. This reminded me of years back when someone asked John Irving a similar question about one of his novels. He answered he saw an Indian man crossing the street in Toronto and wondered how he got there. So he created this incredible back story. McEwan said that he envisioned a young woman - he didn't know the time or place - who jumped into a fountain to retrieve something. Then she had a little sister (Briony) who was putting on a play. And then the time and place came into his mind. He then addressed the ending, where the reader is told that the last part of the book - the apparent happy ending - was made up by Briony who is now a very famous old novelist (played by Vanessa Redgrave). McEwan said there is no doubt or duplicity in this ending. This was the only way that Briony could make up for what she did, for the lives that she ruined. There was no happy ending. Signing books later, McEwan was very personable and friendly with customers - nice to see.
2) Two music groups to check out - one is Saffron Caravan, an eclectic mix of Jewish and Middle Eastern musicians. See their recent performance at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
The second is a Swedish folk/jazz group called Jaerv. You can go onto their Website and hear some of their music - both instrumental and vocals. Definitely has an Irish feel to it. Put June 17 on your calendar - that will be the evening for the House of Sweden rooftop jazz festival this year. More deatils to come.
Also put June 12 on your schedule with 10 stars. The Kennedy Center will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of their Millennium Stage AND the always-amazing 2010 International VSA Festival Closing Ceremony. I would travel miles to see either Henry Butler or Raul Midon play and sing. They will BOTH be playing this evening and it's free! We'll put together a big Meetup so stay tuned.
3) The foreign film Oscar winner has just been released - The Secret of Their Eyes - and I can highly recommend it. Part thriller, part romance and very well told, it was the most impressive of last year's five nominated films - although A Prophet is also quite a film.