The books of Grey Gardens, the beginnings of Les Miserables, and more. It’s all here, ready and waiting, in your Daily Blunt.
The Grey Gardens estate has changed hands several times since the Maysles brothers filmed their groundbreaking 1975 documentary about its now-famous inhabitants, Edith Beale and her daughter, “Little Edie” Beale. Thanks to The Paris Review, those of us who can’t afford to rent or purchase the house (currently listed for around $20 million ) can still browse the contents of the Beales’s library, which has been preserved by the subsequent owners. These photographs also show off the doodles and scribbled notes left in the bindings by the home’s original occupants; all told, the books are in pretty decent condition, although “one first edition of Gone With the Wind actually appears to be melting, an effect I’d never before seen in a book, no matter how misused.”
Les Miserables has remained a revolutionary paragon of literature for so long, it’s easy to take it for granted. The Economist is here to fix that with their account of how Victor Hugo came to write this epic novel, which has been adapted more times than any other novel (sixty-five, by their count). You don’t have to lose a moment’s sleep over whether Hugo was well remunerated for his hard work: “In 1861 ‘the biggest deal in book history’ saw Hugo paid the equivalent of twenty years of a bishop’s stipend: enough ‘to build a small railway.'”
At seventy, Sally Field is still upending expectations on stage as well as onscreen. The actress is currently starring in a controversial new production of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, and while she’s much older than the character Amanda Wingfield as written, Brooklyn Magazine notes: “There is something eternally girlish about Field that makes Amanda’s lot in life feel particularly unfair,” hailing her work in this difficult role as a “particular triumph.” If you get there soon, you’ll also be able to see “American Horror Story” stalwart Finn Whitrock, who is “almost too well cast” as this production’s gentleman caller.
Speaking of critics (and how literally everyone is one nowadays), Netflix is changing its starred rating system to a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down, possibly in an attempt to curb abuse of the system by internet trolls intent on attacking people like The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo author Amy Schumer, who has complained about haters tanking her comedy special with one-star ratings. This report reveals all sorts of idiosyncrasies about human nature, such as: “The company has found users will often rank respected documentaries with five stars and more frivolous titles with one star despite being far more likely to actually watch the latter.” So apparently we all love a guilty pleasure, but still can’t shake the “guilty” part — we’re giving that a big thumbs-down.