1. AOTW--A Two-for-One! Yesterday, waiting to leave a parking lot and to head out onto the thoroughfare, I waited for two cars approaching from my left; both turned before they got to me into another driveway. BOTH FAILED TO SIGNAL. So I had to sit and wait a while longer before I could get out into traffic. ("Justifiable homicide, your honor!" Jury unanimously agrees.)
2. I finished two books this week--the first from my in-bed pile, the second from my afternoon's reading.
- I've enjoyed reading Michael Harvey's detective novels--set in Chicago and featuring Michael Kelly, a hard-boiled dude (as the genre demands, for the most part). Harvey himself came from Boston and was an investigative journalist, so his latest novel, Brighton (2016), though it deviates from his previous books, is not really a surprise. He's writing about his old neighborhood and his former profession. It is a story with roots in the past--the death (and some consequent killings) of the grandmother of our "hero" (loose term here), Kevin, who's just won a Pulitzer at the Boston Globe. Kevin gets drawn back into the old neighborhood--its dangers, its precarious alliances. Memory and the present dance together all the way through.
But though I admired the novel (tricky stuff going on here), I just did not get as caught up in it as I do with his Chicago mysteries. Just a preference.
- I also finished the debut novel by Brit Bennett, The Mothers (2016), a novel that got a lot of wonderful reviews--the reason I ordered it and read it. The novel focuses on three principal characters, all of whom are African American (as is the author): Luke, a once-promising athlete whose careen topples because of an injury; Nadia, an extremely bright young woman who hooked up with Luke in high school; Aubrey, a young woman who's fairly invisible in school but whose life later intertwines significantly with the lives of the other two.
One device I really liked in the novel--"The Mothers" are the voices of older women in the church that all of the characters are more or less involved with--the Upper Room. They function at times almost like a chorus--nameless voices commenting on the other characters, on the evolving plot. (Some are named as we go along.) A clever and very effective idea.
What propels the plot is an abortion. I'll not say who or how. But let's just say that Luke and his parents (he is the pastor at the Upper Room) do not exactly distinguish themselves as the story unfolds.
I found my interest drifting as the story moved along--though, as I said, I admired much of what I read--and was quite moved by individual moments. The final paragraph is a dazzler--in the voice of The Mothers:
Then she disappeared around the corner, and as quickly as we'd seen her, she was gone. We will never know why she returned, but we still think about her. We see the span of her life unspooling in colorful threads and we chase it, wrapping it around our hands as more tumbles out. She's her mother's age now. Double her age. Our age. You're our mother. We're climbing inside you. (275)
Not bad, eh? I look forward to reading her subsequent novels as they come out. A talent.
3. We somehow missed a recent season of Grantchester, which we are now streaming via Amazon Prime. It's a detective series, England, post WWII, a vicar working with a detective (though the former is the principal character, the latter is not far behind). We enjoy the stories, the twists, etc. But what's so weird to me? The vicar (Sidney Chambers) is played by James Norton, the actor who played a psycho/killer/rapist/sadist on the series Happy Valley (a most ironic title!). So ... every time the vicar smiles beneficently, I expect to see the killer leap out and stab a parishioner. It's as if the same person played Superman and Hannibal Lecter! (Link to trailer for the series.)
4. We've--slowly, slowly--been working our way through all the films of the Coen Bros., in the order that the work appeared. This week we finished Barton Fink (1991), the story of the eponymous BF (John Turtoro), a successful NY playwright who goes to Hollywood to make some $$ as a screenwriter, but just can't seem to get it going--until he meets a rooming-house neighbor, John Goodman, who turns out to be, uh, even more than meets the eye.
I had forgotten that there is a character in the film very much based on the sad case of William Faulkner, who'd also spent some Hollywood time (WF does have screen credit for The Big Sleep, 1946!). The character in the film looks, acts, talks like him--and, like WF, is often inebriated. Simultaneously amusing and sad. (Link to film trailer.)
On to Fargo (1996)! So much fun to watch the Coen Bros. evolve ...
5. Final words--some words I liked this week from my various word-of-the-day online services ...
- from the Oxford English Dictionary--a word that reminded me of the title of Robertson Davies' 1972 novel, The Manticore, part of his Deptford Trilogy.
Forms: α. ME mantecora, ME manticeros, ME manticores, ME mantissera, ME matyttory transmission error, ME 16–18 mantichora, ME– manticora, ME– manticore, 15 mantycor, 15 mantycore, 16 martichora, 16 martichore, 16–17 marticora, 19– mantichore, 19– manticor; also Sc. pre-17 manticora. β. 15 mantigora Sc., 15–18 mantiger, 16 19– mantegre, 16–17 mantyger, 17–18 montegre.
Origin:Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Latin, combined with English elements. Etymons: French manticore; Latin mantichoras, man n.1, tiger n.
Etymology: < Middle French manticore (1246 in Old French; also manticora (13th cent. in Old French), mantichore; French manticore) or its etymon classical Latin mantichoras (post-classical Latin manticora, 12th cent. in a British source), a fabulous beast of India or Africa < ancient Greek μαντιχώρας (Ctesias, quoted in Aristotle Hist. Animalium), variant of μαρτιχόρας (the form preferred by modern editors; another variant is μαρτιοχώρας) < an unattested Old Persian compound meaning ‘man-eater’ < Old Persian martiya man (Persian mard) + a derivative of a verb meaning ‘to eat’, cognate with Avestan χvar-, Middle Persian χwardan, Persian khordan to eat (compare markhor n.). The β forms have sometimes been reanalysed as < man n.1 + tiger n. by folk etymology (see man-tiger n. and compare mantegar n.). Compare also mariche n.
1. A fabulous monster having the body of a lion (occas. a tiger), the head of a man, porcupine's quills, and the tail or sting of a scorpion.
▸a1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum(BL Add.) f. 260v, Mantichora.
c1400 (▸?a1300) Kyng Alisaunder(Laud) 7094 Ther he fond addren..and manticeros [v.r. manticores].
1481 Myrrour of Worlde(Caxton) sig. evijv, Another maner of bestes ther is in ynde that ben callyd manticora.
1494 Will of Henry Eburton (P.R.O.: PROB. 11/10) f. 101v, A standing cuppe of syluer with a couering with a straunge best called a mantissera enprinted in the botome.
a1529 J. Skelton Phyllyp Sparowe(?1545) sig. A.viii, The mantycors of ye montaynes Myght fede them on thy braynes.
a1530 (▸c1425) Andrew of Wyntoun Oryg. Cron. Scotl.(Royal) i. 772 [In India] thare is..A best thai call manticora [a1550 Wemyss mantigora], Off wysage..lyk..Till a man.
1607 G. Wilkins Miseries Inforst Mariage sig. I2v, Mantichoras, monstrous beastes, enemies to mankinde, that ha double rowes of teeth in their mouthes.
1646 J. Howell Lustra Ludovici 174 The Beast Marticora which is of a red colour, and hath the head of a man lancing out sharpe prickles from behind.
1717 J. Gay Three Hours after Marriage iii. 61 Fossile: How have I languish'd for your Feather of the Bird Porphyrion! Nautilus: But your Dart of the Mantichora!
1863 C. Kingsley Water-babies iv. 166 Unicorns, firedrakes, manticoras.
1920 R. Graves Country Sentiment 39 Sing then of ringstraked manticor, Man-visaged tiger.
1952 G. Sarton Hist. Sci. I. iv. 121 The mantichore can be easily recognized as Persian, for Aristotle had its story from Ctesias (V b.c.) and its name is Avestan.
1981 J. May Many-colored Land iii. xi. 390 Hideous trolls, spectres, manticores, shambling dark presences seized the soldiers in spine-crunching embraces.
2. Heraldry. A monster represented with the body of a beast of prey, the head of a man, sometimes with spiral or curved horns, and sometimes the feet of a dragon.
c1470 in MS BL Add. 40742 f. 11 (in figure of badge of Hastings), Mantecora.
1562 G. Legh Accedens of Armory f. 88v, Supported with a Mantiger Argent..and a wiuerne Or.
c1600 in S. Baring-Gould & R. W. Twigge Armory Western Counties(1898) (Cotton MS.) 89 Radforde: Sa: 3 mantygers arg.
1610 J. Guillim Display of Heraldrie iii. xxvi. 183 Mantegres, Satyrs, Monkfishes,..and whatsoeuer other double shaped Animall [etc.].
1766 M. A. Porny Elem. Heraldry(1777) 196 The Montegre.
1780 J. Edmondson Compl. Body Heraldry II. (Gloss.), Man-Tyger, or Manticora, an imaginary beast..supposed to have the body..of a lion.
1894 H. Gough & J. Parker Gloss. Terms Heraldry(new ed.) 519 The Mantiger or Lampago, called by writers Montegre and Manticora, also occurs.
1909 A. C. Fox-Davies Compl. Guide Heraldry xiii. 232 The Manticora, Mantegre, or Man-Tiger is the same as the man-lion, but has horns attached to its forehead.
1969 J. Franklyn & J. Tanner Encycl. Dict. Heraldry 215/2 Man-tygre, an heraldic tygre having the horned head of an old-man; hence identical with the lympago... Also called manticora.
- from dictionary.com
asomatous \ey-SOH-muh-tuh s, uh-SOH-\
1. having no material body; incorporeal.
As opposed to something asomatous, a word, my dear boy, I know will have immediately leapt into your brain, meaning, as you doubtlessly know, without bodily form.
-- Leon Rooke, Swinging Through Dixie, 2016
Origin of asomatous
Asomatous entered English in the mid-1700s from Late Latin asōmatus, which derives from the Greek asṓmatos "disembodied, incorporeal."