Of all the contradictions in my blissfully contradictory friend, this is perhaps the greatest, this combination of profoundly nurturing and imperturbably distant.Emma Thompson in the foreword to Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman
In This LitStack Rec:
Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, with a foreword by Emma Thompson. Edited by Alan Taylor
The sensibility of this singular actor may have its push and pull, but among the pleasures of reading his diaries (many of which were kept with the intent of one day developing into a memoir, which sadly, was never written), is being inside Rickman’s head.
Life Inside Alan Rickman’s head
These entries might at first seem quotidian. In scrupulous detail, Rickman charts meetings, meals in restaurants (one of his passions was dining out), plane flights, shopping excursions, family gatherings, and of course, work, and the reward is his perceptive and occasionally cutting view of people and things.
Here, for example, is Rickman in 1993, charting a disappointing take while filming Mesmer:
Too much like a commercial—no danger.
Later on, working on Mike Newell’s 1995 An Awfully Big Adventure, Rickman coins a nickname for his co-star Georgina Cates: The Diva. Though because she’s just seventeen at the time of filming, he’s also generously patient with her. Rickman can also be barbed about himself, as here, from an entry in 1993:
Sitting in front of a mirror all day. However much I look at my face under such circumstances I never see the full horror that photographers manage to capture. How do we edit that out? I rake my features looking for all the bumps, cavities and lines that litter the contact sheets…
Rickman’s intelligence and his fresh, inventive turns of phrase makes for great reading. He describes the home of friends as a “big Victorian novel of a house with nooks and crannies for days.” And watching the 1994 Oscars, he writes, actors “are our own worst enemies when we take ourselves that seriously…Apes picking fleas from each other.”
A Document of the Actor’s Life and Work
Sense and Sensibility
There are numerous entries about his work in the movie business and many contain delicious snippets of behind-the-scenes detail, as here, from 1995 during the making of Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility:
Makeup and hair becomes a gentle negotiation—hair especially. Heated rollers eventually win.
Rickman was an avid filmgoer, and there are numerous incisive takes on the films he saw. Here, from 2002:
Watched Gosford Park. There it is—the script perfectly realised on the screen. And I felt seriously detached. Maybe it’s a problem when you don’t really care about any of the characters. Because try as he might Robert Altman can’t make us see the story through the servants’ eyes. The upper classes will always top that. That’s the point.
Remains of the Day
After seeing James Ivory’s 1993 Remains of the Day, Rickman describes it as “a gloriously crafted film with [Anthony] Hopkins quite wonderful. A lesson. Emma needs to work with someone who will ask her to dig rather than skim.”
Harry Potter and the…
Fans of Harry Potter will find much here in the way of trivia, humor, and Rickman’s classic takes on daily life on a film set:
The line ‘take out your wand’ reduces Helena Bonham Carter to helpless mirth and will be a bit of a Waterloo come Thursday…Helen McCrory says she’s terrified but fits like a glove with the mayhem. Which includes a few words on Snape’s House being designed and built without any reference to himself.
The Last Months…
Throughout the years, as Rickman worked, saw friends, gave interviews, went to business meetings, and shopped, his partner of forty-six years, Rima Horton, was always present. They met, Alan Taylor writes in his introduction, when Rima was fifteen and Rickman sixteen. It’s clear in these entries that her presence steadies Rickman, lifting him out of emotional mires and bringing him back to earth when celebrity inflates his ego and frays his nerves. In her Afterword, she charts the last months of Rickman’s life, and writes of the salon atmosphere of the hospital room, which was decorated by friends with cushions, lamps, throws, a window bird feeder and a table-top Christmas tree. “
He was surrounded by people who loved him,” Horton writes, “and until 13 January was still in control of everything that was going on around him.” In the years since, Horton has become a trustee of Pancreatic Cancer UK, raising money to fund research to develop diagnostic testing for the disease that took Rickman’s life.
Madly, Deeply, released mid-October 2022, was a bestseller, and alongside the diary entries, there are reprints of original pages in his script with his stunning artwork. Early on, Rickman studied visual art, and his keen eye and crisp sense of design are present on the frontispiece where original pages are reproduced. Losing a talent, and a mentor like Rickman, is tragic enough, so it’s a gift to be able to see the world through his eyes, and we’re reminded in this volume, just how madly and deeply talented he was.
Alan Rickman Movies
The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season, by Barry Svrluga
It’s no grind whatsoever to read Svrluga’s flowing prose. An illuminating and entertaining must-read for the baseball obsessed.Kirkus Reviews
Buy “The Grind” on Amazon
180 Days 163 Games
A Major League Baseball season usually lasts around 180 days, with 163 games played during that time. Think of that – 163 games in 180 days. Two to four days off a month. Not two to four days off a week – two to four days off a month. When Barry Svrluga, beat reporter for The Washington Post calls the season “the grind,” he means it literally. And that doesn’t take into account the COVID-19 wracked season, where there were far fewer games, but the pace of them was even tougher.
Love of the Game
We can understand why players “just keep grinding” through a season – love of the game, love of competition, playing at the pinnacle of their sport – but what about the effects beyond the game itself, beyond the players? For indeed, beyond the revered veteran, the celebrated starting pitcher, the reliever who has to be ready to jump into the game on any given day, and the hopeful youngster bouncing back and forth between the majors and the minors, there are a myriad of supporting players involved in the day-to-day operations of a team. What of them?
Based on Articles from the Washington Post
Based on a series of articles written for The Washington Post, author Barry Svrluga chronicles the Washington Nationals’ 2014 season, but instead of focusing on the drama of the game itself he shares behind-the-scenes glimpses of the affect of the season on the players, and on those who support them: coaches, scouts, equipment managers and schedulers, wives and families, even the general manger Mike Rizzo, himself.
The ups, the downs, the triumphs and the physical tolls, the unity of the team and the impermanence of the business, dealing with loss, dealing with promise; dealing with schedules affected by rainouts, dealing with a lonely life on the road searching for tomorrow’s stars, dealing with adjusting a toddler’s schedule so he can be awake for the games to spend a few precious hours with daddy afterwards, dealing with packing up an apartment, a house, a life, when a trade is made and lives shift from one day to the next.
The Human Side of Major League Baseball
The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season is an interesting glimpse into this very human side of Major League Baseball, sans the celebrated stats, the highlight reels, or the poured-over metrics (saber- or otherwise). Instead, this book is a real eye opener, giving the reader a deeper awareness of just how much goes on behind the game itself during the course of a season, told in simple, informative prose.
If You’re a Fan…
If you’re a fan of baseball, as I am, and especially if you enjoy the game beyond the win/loss column, you’d do well to pick up a copy of The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season. It’s a slight book, easily digested, well written, fun and enlightening. And take it from me – reading The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season will enhance your appreciation of the game – all 163 of them; and if you’re lucky, maybe a few beyond those, to boot.
~ Sharon Browning
Titles by Barry Svrluga
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