1. AOTW: We're heading east on Rt. 82 in Aurora, getting ready to turn right into Mickey D's parking lot (Diet Coke Time!), when a woman in an SUV, approaching us, wheels/swerves sharply in front of us, turning left into the parking lot (and drive-thru), missing us just by feet--risking us, herself, our car, her car--all to get in front of us for 30 seconds at the drive-thru window.
2. I finished two books this week ...
- The first was by former Harmon Middle (and Aurora High) School student (whom, sadly, I did not get to teach) Cori McCarthy, You Were Here, her third YA novel, a novel very different from the prior two, both of which dealt with elements of sci-fi, adventure, the near future (all showing us both the dark and bright sides of human nature and society). Cori's new novel is a sometimes very painful account of a group of young people--just out of college--friends, in some cases, since childhood. The brother of one of them died in a playground accident, and his sister has been having a hard time dealing with it. (Gradually, the truth about that day emerges, but I'll let you discover that for yourself.) She shifts focus with each chapter (a different character gets the microscope--though all are in 3rd person), and there's a visual bonus, as well: A fine graphic artist has added pages of illustrations at key points. Those who live in northeastern Ohio will get a special buzz because there are important sections that occur at the ruins of Randall Park Mall--and at the remnants of Geauga Lake Park in Aurora. (The characters are sort of amateur urban explorers who take some risks moving about in dark, unreliable space.) Of course--the ruins (the decay and neglect) are key not just in the settings but in the characters' lives, as well. Relationships fracture, reassemble in different ways, haunt. There is a lot of pain in this dark novel--physical, psychological. And Cori, unblinking, paints it all.
- The second was Everybody's Fool (Richard Russo, 2016), the sequel to Nobody's Fool (1993), which I wrote about last Sunday. When I saw that Russo had written a sequel, I, guiltily, returned to read Nobody's--which I'd never read but which was the basis for one of my favorite films--same title--from 1994, a film starring Paul Newman (in one of his best performances, I think) as Donald "Sully" Sullivan, a handyman in a small New York community (Bath) where he stumbles around causing trouble--but also holding hands with those who need it. His landlady, played by Jessica Tandy (in her last screen appearance), was his former 8th grade English teacher (a stellar profession!) who tries to encourage him--and who sees much good in him. His sometime employer is Bruce Willis, a local contractor noted for not paying on time and for bedding young attractive women. Melanie Griffith plays his suffering (but strong) wife. The young Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a cop named Raymer who is young-and-dumb. And Pruitt Taylor Vince plays Newman's buddy Rub Squeers, very dim, very good-hearted.
- Everybody's Fool, the novel, takes up the story about a decade later. The landlady has died--but has left her house to Sully (Newman). And I laughed out loud when I read, early on, that Raymer is now chief of police. The marriage of Carl (Bruce Willis) and his wife has broken. And there are some other changes.
- Sully's health is not good. Heart. His time is limited. And Russo masterfully keeps multiple plots and points-of-view spinning throughout. I loved the wild, very dark comedy. (Raymer falls face-first into an open grave; a deadly cobra gets loose in the dilapidated apartment building where he lives--then returns at a key moment; a heavy rain causes some hillside graves to open and expel their caskets; and so on.)
- From time to time Russo revisits some important events from Nobody's--correctly assuming that most people have not read that novel in a long time (if they ever read it).
- Race emerges more strongly in the sequel. In Nobody's there was a black cook at the diner that Sully (and most of the other principals) frequented--that was about it. Here, Charice is the police dispatcher--and she has a troubled brother, too. She's an important character--in Raymer's life and in the texture of the novel.
- I (mildly) complained about Nobody's that everyone in town seemed to have the same wry, ironic sense of humor. Same thing here.
- Still, I loved these two books, got hooked on Russo's wit and have ordered, accordingly, a copy of his first novel, Mohawk, and will commence a romp through all his work ...
3. I there a TV series more ironically titled than Happy Valley? We just this week finished Season 2 (of 2) of this Netflix original, and it is dark, dark, dark, DARK. In fact, it was so intense, that Joyce and I simply could not watch an entire episode all the way through. Some took three or four sittings ... Still, we so much admire the leading performer, Sarah Lancashire, who plays a troubled but compassionate cop in Yorkshire. And we marvel at how she can play a totally different character in Last Tango in Halifax.
4. Final words ... from my various word-of-the-day online services ...
- terraqueous \ter-EY-kwee-uh s, -AK-wee-\adjective (from dictionary.com)1. consisting of land and water, as the earth.QuotesSometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on this terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.-- H. P. Lovecraft, "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," Pine Cones, October 1919
- slyboots \SLAHY-boots\ (from dictionary.com)noun1. an engagingly sly or mischievous person.Quotes… even though he never said a word, he had more than one trick up his sleeve, the old slyboots.-- Emmanuel Carrère, translated by Linda Coverdale, A Russian Novel, 2010
- overslaugh \oh-ver-SLAW\ (from dictionary.com)verb1. to pass over or disregard (a person) by giving a promotion, position, etc., to another instead.Quotes… General Stark, a former British officer who had been overslaughed for promotion and now took handsome revenge …-- Robert Graves, Sergeant Lamb's America, 1940