1. AOTW: Not even close this week. Yesterday (Saturday) is the day that Hudson has its Farmers' Market out on the Green, just about a block from our house. And yesterday one of the people who set up a booth there parked his/her truck/SUV so that it blocked about 1/3 of our driveway--all morning long! Very difficult getting in and out. Had a mind to call the cops. (Didn't.) Not cool, AOTW!
2. Somehow I managed to finished two books this week.
a. One was Alan Bennett's collection of short pieces (fiction and nonfiction) The Lady in the Van and Other Stories (2015), a collection I came to know about because of the eponymous film last year--The Lady in the Van--a film that Joyce and I liked a lot. (Okay, maybe we loved it.) (Link to trailer for the film.)
Based on fact, it tells the story of a semi-homeless woman (Maggie Smith in the film), who parks her imploding, corroding van in Bennett's driveway (and, later, garden), where she lived for some fifteen years before her death in the spring of 1989. Bennett (who has a cameo near the end) is played by the fantastic Alex Jennings, an actor I don't believe I'd seen before--though I just checked IMDB and discovered he was in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Wings of the Dove in the mid-90s, both of which we saw.
- The other pieces in the volume are short stories--"The Laying on of Hands" and "Father! Father! Burning Bright"--both of which I enjoyed, as well, both showing Bennett's wry/dry-but-slicing humor and social commentary.
* Note--I finished this book while sitting with Joyce in her hospital room last week. Sometimes you gotta read or you're gonna go nuts!
b. I also finished (with some hospital reading, as well) Richard Russo's collection of stories, The Whore's Child (2005)--another Russo work that I really (mostly) admired and a work that found a variety of ways to move and illuminate me. Damn, he's good! (As some of you know, I'm reading my way through all his works, earliest to latest.) The title story is about an aging nun who decides to take a fiction-writing class with the narrator, and in her memoir (she won't write fiction!) she tells about how she had, indeed, been the daughter of a prostitute; her father, we learn much later (spoiler alert!), was the prostitute's pimp.
- "The Farther You Go" tells about a guy recovering from prostate surgery--I can relate to that! But I also noticed this story deals with the same sort of incident that figured in Russo's academic novel, Straight Man (1997)--the narrator's daughter is building a house just like his, very near, but has run out of money; her husband has/has not hit her ... and what the narrator does about it. This, I believe, was one of the seeds that grew into that novel.
- "Joy Ride"--about a mother swooping her young son away to escape her husband--has a little error in it (I know: picky, picky). On p. 78 the narrator (the son, looking back) tells us that in his school days he used to eat packets of ketchup by the fistful, to impress his middle school (bully) friends. Then on p. 105 he mentions the incident again--only this time it's mustard.
* Still I loved this sentence near the end: "But the worst truths are contained in our many silences" (111).
- "Buoyancy" tells about a retired prof. of literature (he's also a biographer) who's having some second thoughts about his life's work: "It was foolish and arrogant, he had to concede, to think you could imagine the truth of another human life, to penetrate its deepest secrets ..." (142).
- I loved, as well, the penultimate story, "The Mysteries of Linwood Hart," another story that tells about a middle school boy--problems at school, with an "enemy," with the broken marriage between his parents, and a reconciliation of sorts.
*Loved the final sentence: "It was into this entirely different world that Linwood Hart now fell asleep, sadly grateful that he was not, nor ever had been, nor ever would be, its center" (225).
3. We finished watching all of the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, based on the Richard Russo novel of the same name. Ended up liking it very much (a little bit slow at the beginning). Great cast--Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Newman, Helen Hunt, Aidan Quinn, Ed Harris, Joanne Woodward, etc. Troubling story about our tangled webs--and about our determination to inflict pain on others. (Link to trailer for film.0
4. Finally--a couple of words that arrived in my computer this week from my various word-of-the-day online services. (I posted a couple of them on Facebook, too.)
a. Dissensus (di-SEN-suhs) (from wordsmith.org)
noun: Widespread disagreement.
Of uncertain origin. Probably a blend of dissent + consensus or a blend of dis- + consensus or from Latin dissensus (disagreement). Earliest documented use: 1962.
“The incident is one illustration of the increasingly divergent views ... ‘There is a growing global dissensus on drugs policy,’ said Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution.”
John Paul Rathbone, Geoff Dyer, Jude Webber; World Split in Fight Over Drugs; Financial Times (London, UK); Apr 19, 2016.
b. Limacine \LIM-uh-sahyn, -sin, LAHY-muh-\ adjective
1. pertaining to or resembling a slug; sluglike.
A man on the downhill side of prime--limbs beginning to shrink, the limacine middle expanding, flesh disintegrating into the beard.
-- John Edgar Wideman, Hurry Home, 1970
Origin of limacine
Limacine finds its roots in the Latin term līmāx meaning "slug." It entered English in the late 1800s.