Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Sundries, 42

1. AOTW--On my daily walk to the coffee shop I cross Ohio 91 in the middle of  Hudson. Adjacent to the crosswalk is an angle parking spot that features this sign. The reason is safety: If the car parking there is too large, pedestrians must go out into 91 too far in order to see the oncoming traffic. On Tuesday this week, there was an SUV parked there the entire morning--earning the driver the AOTW.

2. I finished two books this week.
  • As I wrote last week, I've been reading some of the early novels (and others) by Saul Bellow because I'm preparing to review a massive new biography of him. The Victim (1947) was his second novel and deals with Asa Leventhal, a character who is being (in current terms) stalked by a man (Kirby Allbee) who believes Leventhal has wronged him. Leventhal does begin to feel a bit responsible--and at one point Allbee is even staying in (and somewhat trashing) the apartment of Leventhal (whose wife is away for the nonce). I liked the novel better than his first one (The Victim)--and marked this near the end: "When you turn against yourself, nobody else means anything to you either" (379, Library of America edition).
  • As many of you no doubt know, I've spent some years reading and studying about Mary Shelley and her circle. Many were famous (mother: Mary Wollstonecraft; father: William Godwin; husband: Percy Bysshe Shelley; friends: Byron, Leigh Hunt, etc.), but Mary grew up with a half-sister, Fanny Imlay Godwin (born 1794--she was three years older than Mary), who was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and her American lover, Gilbert Imlay, who took off once he became a father. (Can you imagine a man doing that?!!?)
    • When Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft, he became the father--the beloved father--of little Fanny, who grew up almost idolizing her father.
    • Fanny grew up in a household that eventually included five children--no two of whom had the same parents.
    • When Bysshe Shelley eloped with Mary (16), they took with them Claire Clairmont (another of the children, also 16). Fanny stayed behind. And endured a lot. Later, when the group returned from their six weeks on the Continent, Fanny served as kind of an unofficial go-between for Mary and her father, who would not speak with her.
    • Fanny--depressive and dour (as her mother sometimes was)--left home in October 1816 and traveled to Swansea in Wales, where she took her own life.
    • Fanny's story is often barely more than a footnote in the Mary and Percy Shelley story, but the wonderful scholar Janet Todd has fleshed out her life in Death & the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle (2007), which I finally read this past week. It's a terrific book--sad, of course, and somewhat limited because the documentary evidence about Fanny is not nearly as bountiful as it is for most of the others. Todd does a great job of bringing her to life, though--and is hard on the men in Fanny's life, a fair assessment in my view.
3. On Netflix this week we streamed a wonderful (short) documentary film, Trash Dance (2012), directed by Andrew Garrison, whom Joyce knows fairly well. It's the story of a choreographer (Allison Orr) who decides she wants to mount a large outdoor production featuring trash men and their trucks in Austin, Texas (website with trailer). Both Joyce and I found the entire experience very moving (tears appeared). Very much worth the hour and seven minutes.

4. Finally--one of the words-of-the-day this week from the Oxford English Dictionary was prestidigitator (a person who practices sleight of hand or legerdemain; a conjuror; a juggler). This word propelled me back to my Oklahoma boyhood when there was a kids' show on TV called 3-D Danny, who had a time machine (which he called his Synchro Retroverter). It was, of course, not a time machine, but it was the way that 3-D Danny showed cowboy movies with his robot, Bazark. He also had a machine called the prestidigitator oscillator. I see--surprise!--that there's a surviving episode of the show on YouTube--here's a link.

Danny Williams died in 2013. Link to his death story.

No comments:

Post a Comment