Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Sundries, 90

1. AOTW--How about the men/women who carry on full-voice phone conversations in public places? Smart phone/Dumb guys.

2. This week I finished Suzanne Berne's recent novel The Dogs of Littlefield. I've enjoyed her work for quite a while now, all the way back to 2001, when I reviewed her novel A Perfect Arrangement in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on September 30. To prepare for that review, I'd read her earlier novel (A Crime in the Neighborhood, 1997); I also reviewed her A Ghost at the Table on October 29, 2006).

She's a sharp social critic and satirist--and her novels are in the same league with some of the best of Tom Perrotta.

This new one takes place in a Boston suburb populated by the usual suspects. Some dogs have mysteriously died, and residents are advancing all sorts of theories about who the killer might be--and why. There are some crumbling marriages, some odd recluses, an angry/confused teen, a social researcher, many shrinks (the town is full of them--some 679!), a teacher, a randy novelist, a randy father of a teen (who's a bit too interested in one of his daughter's friends), and on and on. One character pauses to ask a question that many have asked: "What happened to me, she thought. How could my life have ended up this way?" (133).

The final sentence seems written by E. E. Cummings: "Trees, leaves, light, bird" (273). At the end of Cummings' "anyone lived in pretty how town" we get this: "sun moon stars rain."

I laughed, groaned, ached--just what you ought to be doing in such a work.

On October 20, 2010, Joyce and I met Berne (who teaches creative writing at Boston College) at a reading and book-signing up at Joseph-Beth (RIP) in Beachwood. She was promoting a memoir about her grandmother (Missing Lucille). And did a nice job with the small "crowd" that appeared.

Link to Times review of Dogs.

3. We've been streaming episodes on Hulu of Elementary, the contemporary riff on Sherlock Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (as a far more competent Watson than the original). On CBS. Love the show. We're nearing the end of Season 3 (all that's on Hulu) and are wondering when/how we can access Season 4. I love Miller, by the way, who recently did a stage production of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch, the two alternating the roles of the creature and Victor Frankenstein.

4. An exciting Friday night: To Kohl's and Bed, Bath to look at models of food-processors. (Didn't pull the plastic trigger yet.)

5. Some words this week that popped up on my various word-a-day providers.

  • rannygazoo--from the late 19th century, uncertain origin: Nonsense, deception; foolishness, fuss, exaggeration; (also) an instance of this; a prank, a trick (from the OED).
  • macicious--from the late 18th century: sparkling, shining (from the OED).
  • megrim--(1) low spirits (in plural) (2) whim (3) migraine--back to 15th century (from wordsmith.org)
  • alpenglow--from the mid-19th cent.: a reddish glow often seen on the summits of mountains just before sunrise or just after sunset. This one made me think of that sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay ... look at the last two lines ...

Only until this cigarette is ended,
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,–farewell!–the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The color and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

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