Notes on Directing

Understanding that the art of directing is the art of getting the best out of people, veterans Hauser and Reich have subtitled their Notes on Directing "130 Lessons in Leadership from the Director's Chair." Some of my favorites: Introduce bad news with "and" not "but." That is, "The costume looks great, and when you keep your hat up, we can see your gorgeous face." Anger is always preceded by pain. "When an actor jumps to angry choices, look back together for the moment when the hurt occurs because that is what is more important -- and more interesting." Every Object Tells (quoting Romulus Linney): "Everything on the set should be used up, burned up, blown up, destroyed, or otherwise completely chemically altered over the course of the story or else it didn't belong there to begin with." And one that could be a mantra for every overburdened parent: Assume that everyone is in a permanent state of catatonic terror. "This will help you approach the impossible state of infinite patience and benevolence that actors and others expect of you." Full of clear-headed advice, this slender volume communicates more than a shelf of self-help books. What words speak more directly to human drama -- whether on the stage or in the bedroom -- than #65 and #70: Never, NEVER bully... and Please, PLEASE be decisive?

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).