Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sundae Sundries, 83

1. AOTW--Oh, I don't know ... How about people who don't wipe off the exercise equipment at the health club? So nice of them. I get to do it twice--before and after my exertions.

2. We've seen some documentary films in recent weeks (Netflix streaming) and have especially enjoyed a couple of them.
  • Dinosaur 13 tells the story of "Sue," a largely intact T-rex found in South Dakota--the most complete ever discovered. Well ... then a "custody battle" ensued among the discoverers, the rancher (on whose property they found it), and the U. S. Government, whose dominion over the land (Reservation) was predominant. The film charts the discovery, the joy, the battles, the winners and losers, and the ultimate home for Sue. Lots to grind your teeth about. (I think the whole thing is also on YouTube.)
  • Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. (Trailer for the film.) As many of you know, Campbell--once a huge star of TV, country music, films (he was in the original True Grit)--was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago. He and his family decided to do one more tour, and so they did. (In his small band were three of Campbell's children--one young man played guitar, another drums, and a daughter played banjo; all were good.) The tour came through Kent on Saturday, November 10, 2012, and Joyce and I went to hear him at the old Kent Cinema (now a venue for stage productions). In 2012, I did a post about that experience (link to earlier post). Much of what we saw that night (and what I wrote about) we saw repeated in the documentary, which, I'll confess, I could not watch in portions longer than about 10-15 minutes. It was just too painful. The film begins with his diagnosis, ends with their decision to stop the tour because the great musician just can't keep things straight any longer. The film had tremendous personal resonance for us, as well, because Joyce's mother suffered a long time with her Alzheimer's, a story Joyce tells beautifully in her 1996 memoir In a Tangled Wood (still available on Amazon--link).

3. I had an experience this week I've not had in my entire life: I actually emptied a box of 5000 staples. That's right: I used them all. Ran out! Usually, I lose them--or move somewhere else and just toss them--or give them to someone else--or whatever. But this time I had to go out and buy a new box of 5000! Which will probably last the rest of my life (that's scary).

4. This week I finished the 2015 novel Gorsky, by Vesna Goldsworthy, a book I learned about in the New York Times recently. (Link to review.) It intrigued me because it's based on The Great Gatsby (only it takes place in contemporary London), but the framework of the Gatsby plot remains:
  • a mysterious rich guy who's pursuing a long ago love, now married to a guy
  • a rather impecunious narrator who gets involved with Gorsky (who's building a palace nearby on the banks of the Thames) and with the Lost Love
  • an athletic young friend of the Lost Love with whom our Nick (yep, that's his name) gets sexually if not otherwise involved
  • a couple of killings that resemble in some fundamental ways those in Gatsby
  • etc.
I taught that novel for ten years (the final ten years of my career), so I know its structure pretty well, and I was impressed with Goldsworthy's adroit use of some of Fitzgerald's techniques. I'll tell you about one.

In Gatsby, there comes a point in the novel when Nick, our narrator, must tell us some things that he had no way of knowing. Fitzgerald elects to have Jordan Baker tell Nick about it. So on p. 79 (in the edition I taught, about 2/3 of the way through Chapter IV), we get this ...

I turned toward Mr. Gatsby, but he was no longer there.

One October day in nineteen-seventeen--
(said Jordan Baker that afternoon ....)

And Jordan essentially becomes the narrator for a few pages, filling Nick in on some of Gatsby's (and Daisy's) background. On p. 83, there's another space break (like the one above), and Nick resumes his narration.

Well, Goldsworthy employs this same device--in a slightly sexier way. Nick is returning from some sex with Gery (the athletic young woman) ...

... I walked down the King's Road trying to process the story Gery had told me. ...

When he was sacked from his university post, Gorsky briefly traded in Chinese toys--buying in China, selling in Russia--working with a Chinese man he had studied ....

On p. 143, there's another space break; Nick resumes.

There are lots of other cool similarities (the Old Love's daughter is named Daisy); Nick tells Gorsky, "You can't set the clock back." And Gorsky replies, "Of course you can" (189).

There are many many differences between the stories, though, and that was a big part of the fun of reading this clever riff on one of my favorite novels to teach.

No comments:

Post a Comment