The Amityville Horror

MAX: She’s safe.
LORELAI: She’s with my mother. No one is safe with my mother.
MAX: She needed some space.
LORELAI: No, that house is not safe. It’s like The Amityville Horror without all the good times.

The Amityville Horror is a 1979 horror film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and based on the sensational book of the same name by Jay Anson. The book purported to be a true story about a demon-possessed house in Amityville on Long Island, New York, but investigation proved that the book was a hoax cooked up to make money (at which it succeeded spectacularly).

The Amityville Horror was a massive box office success, and the #2 film of 1979; it is one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time. Despite getting mostly negative reviews, it has had a number of sequels and remakes, and is regarded as a horror classic.

The Art of Fiction

MAX: If we read his works in order we can see his progression from a narrative of clear simplicity to one of one of rich complexity. Now this is not homework, but I strongly urge you, if you have not already read The Art of Fiction, read it. It’s a remarkable manifesto that contains basic truths that still apply to fiction in any form. All right, so Henry James, the man of the moment. Pick your book. Read it carefully. A full report on my desk one week from today.

The Art of Fiction is an essay by American-born British author Henry James, first published in his 1888 Partial Portraits, a book of literary criticism. In the essay, James argues for the greatest freedom possible in subject and style for the author.

Max has given his class their own choice of any Henry James novel to read. We don’t know which of James’ novels Rory might have chosen, but in a later season we learn that Rory has read the 1879 novella Daisy Miller by Henry James, so that might have been her choice for this assignment. As she’s tired and grumpy in this episode, a short book probably suited her.

Out of Africa

LORELAI: Okay, last week we were talking about Meryl Streep and the whole accent thing, and Rachel said that she loved Out of Africa, but she’d never read the book, remember?
LUKE: Nope.
LORELAI: Okay, so I was like, “Are you crazy? Isak Dinesen is amazing, I love her.” Which is kind of crap because I’d never read the book either, but Rory told me it was amazing, so I felt pretty confident in my recommendation of Out of Africa.

Out of Africa is a 1937 memoir by Isak Dinesen, the pen name of Danish author Karen Blixen. It describes the seventeen years that Blixen spent in Kenya, then called British East Africa. It is a meditation on her life on her coffee plantation, and some of the people she encountered there.

The book is non-chronological in structure, and is notable for its melancholic, poetic style that is above all a tribute to the Africa she knew, and a world that had changed irretrievably. That she helped change it did not seem to make a strong impression on her, although her notes on the African people are understanding and accepting, and they admired her as wise and trustworthy.

It seems appropriate that Rory would enjoy Out of Africa. We know that she admires women writers, books on travel, memoir and autobiography, and works with a certain lyrical sadness to them – she likes things that make her feel “gloomy”.

Out of Africa was adapted into film in 1985, directed by Sydney Pollack, and starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the lead roles. The film has several differences from the book, and focuses on Karen Blixen’s love affair with a hunter named Denys Finch Hatton (an Englishman, although Robert Redford plays him with an American accent). Meryl Streep spent a lot of time listening to tapes of Karen Blixen speaking, and chose an old-fashioned, aristocratic accent for her character, which Sydney Pollack thought excessive; Streep is well known for her mastery of different accents.

Out of Africa was the #5 film of 1985 and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Director. Despite this, it received mixed reviews from critics.

The fact that Luke can’t remember a word of a conversation with Rachel doesn’t seem very promising for their relationship. As Out of Africa is in part about a doomed love affair, it is possible that Rachel may read something into the gift that Luke has “chosen” for her.

James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study

Rory reads this book by Stuart Gilbert while she waits for Lane outside the supermarket. First published in 1930, it’s a guide to James Joyce’s notoriously difficult 1922 novel Ulysses. Stuart Gilbert was the first French translator of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and through that became good friends with the author. His systematic analysis of the novel was written with James Joyce’s approval and input, so it’s seen as the official guide to Ulysses.

Rory must surely be reading Ulysses as well to need this companion book to help her understand it. It seems to be something she is reading for herself rather than for school, as we later learn they have been studying Henry James at Chilton.

“Her nose didn’t grow”

LORELAI: But she [Rachel] seems sincere.
LUKE: How do you know?
LORELAI: Her nose didn’t grow.

Lorelai is referring to the 1940 animated film Pinocchio, produced by Walt Disney and based on the 1883 children’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Italian author Carlo Collodi.

In the story, Pinocchio is a wooden puppet who is magically brought to life, and promised that he can become a real boy if he is brave, truthful, and unselfish. At one point, Pinocchio’s nose grows longer and longer every time he lies, until he promises to do better and has his nose restored. Ever since, it is common for people to talk about your nose getting longer if you lie.

Pinocchio received good reviews, and won the Academy Awards for Best Original Song (When You Wish Upon a Star) and Best Score – the first Disney film, and the first animated film, to win a non-honorary Oscar. It was a box office failure at first, but made a profit on its 1945 re-issue; it is now considered one of the greatest animated films of all time.

The Grapes of Wrath

RORY: I know, it’s [the fridge] a little sparse.
EMILY: It’s The Grapes of Wrath.

The Grapes of a Wrath is a 1939 novel by American author John Steinbeck. Set during the Great Depression, the book follows the failing fortunes of an Oklahoma family of tenant farmers driven from their land by drought. Seeking a better life in California, they instead find themselves exploited as cheap labour to the point of starvation.

The Grapes of Wrath was the best-selling book of 1939, and was relentlessly reviewed, criticised, debated, banned, and even burned. It won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and was a major factor in Steinbeck winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. It is regarded as one of the best books ever written, and a classic example of The Great American Novel.

The Grapes of Wrath was made into a celebrated film in 1940, directed by John Ford, and starring Henry Fonda. It is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.

Boo Radley

LORELAI: You want him [Rune] to live here?
SOOKIE: No! Well, what about the old potting shed?
LORELAI: The old potting shed? That’s where Rory and I lived when she was a baby. It has memories and little rosebud wallpaper. I don’t want Boo Radley touching my rosebud wallpaper.

Arthur “Boo” Radley is a character in To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 novel by American author Harper Lee. He is a recluse who has been isolated from the townspeople since he was a teenager, and many rumours surround him. Boo Radley was apparently based on a real life neighbour of Harper Lee when she was a child. In the 1962 film version, he is portrayed by Robert Duvall [pictured].

Lorelai is saying that Rune is the town weirdo, like Boo Radley. The fact that she sees him this way shows that on some level, she is starting to accept him as a resident of Stars Hollow. (She can’t help it – she loves Stars Hollow, and on some level, everyone who lives there, even Rune).

It’s notable that after this Lorelai appears kind and friendly to Rune, a man she dislikes, who has been nothing but insulting to her, and is spreading rumours that imply she is his ex-girlfriend. Is she just being loyal to Sookie, or is there some fellow feeling with Rune, the black sheep of his family who has come to Stars Hollow with almost nothing? She gives Rune the same start she was given – an entry-level job at the inn, and some very basic free accommodation.

This is also the first we hear of Lorelai and Rory living in the potting shed at the Independence Inn, which will be important later in the episode.