Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 140

1. AOTW: Can't really come up with anyone who was so egregious that he/she merited this coveted award. Just the usual assortment of impatient, careless drivers and overall public rudeness. Other than that ...

2. Bosch is back for his third season on Amazon Prime, and we've started streaming Episode 1. Based on the LAPD detective created by novelist Michael Connelly (who is an executive producer for the series), the stories tell about a sort of Lone-Ranger cop devoted to his job--often to the exclusion of social conventions. Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch, is not exactly the way I pictured him (I've read all the books), but he grows on you ... (Link to season trailer.)

3. On the domestic scene: On Friday night, in bed streaming Bosch with Joyce, I felt something ... sticky on my big toe. Pause. Turned back covers. Chewing gum on my big toe.

Okay. Both Joyce and I chew.

Joyce found some alcohol (no, not that kind), and she removed the gum with a bit of effort. We lay back. I got the remote. And said, "I think it's very mature that neither one of us blamed the other."

She said, "You just did." Then added; "I probably did it--I mean, my head is often down where your feet are."

We both cracked up. For a while.

My theory: I'd stepped in gum (probably Joyce's) and carried it to bed with us.

4. I finished two books this week.

     - The first--a debut novel by Stephanie Powell Watts, No One Is Coming to Save Us (2017), a novel I learned about via a New York Times review that highlighted its connections to The Great Gatsby (which I taught at Western Reserve Academy for a decade). Here's a link to that NYT review.
And there are, indeed, some patent similarities. A man named Jay, who has earned a fortune in some mysterious way, returns to his hometown and builds a mansion up in the hills, a place designed to attract the love of his boyhood, who, married to a jerk, still lives in town. And there are some other plot-related similarities. But there are also some major differences--the people involved are, for the most part, at the lower end of the economic ladder. They are black. And Watts employs a number of points-of-view (which Fitzgerald rarely did in Gatsby).

Like Gatsby, it deals with the nature of love, of time, of the human heart, of wealth and its consequences.

Watts is a first-time novelist, and there are times, I felt, when she was too determined to say things directly and bluntly, things that her characters and narration could have shown us. Time after time we read a philosophical statement by a character. Some are good, some not. But this one is fairly typical: So much violence lay dormant under the surface of the world.... How easy it was to find chaos (177). Sometimes, these things are just obvious; other times, effective. But I'm betting she'll do less of this as her career goes on--and, based on this book, I think she'll have a great career!

If I were still teaching Gatsby, I would definitely take this book to class with me one day to talk about.

     - I'm still making my way through all the Michael Chabon books that I've not yet read, and the latest I loved! The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (2004) is a novella about an apparently mute boy from Germany who shows up in England during WW II (1944 is the year--appropriate: my year of birth). There is a murder. And into the story comes a man--an old, old, old man--who is clearly Sherlock Holmes (though he's never named--identified throughout only as "the old man"). Well ... before long we're dealing with espionage, an amazingly intelligent African gray parrot, a code, the Holocaust (see the title), as well as references to Holmes stories--including "The Final Problem," a story that deals with the death of Holmes (or does it?). Link to text of story.

Chabon's novella is swift and clever--with no real indications of a writer "showing off" or drawing attention to himself. I got lost in it--in a hurry. And loved it.

5. A Final Word: A word I liked from my various online word-of-the-day online providers.

     - from wordsmith.org

cramoisy  (KRAM-oi-zee, kruh-MOI-)
adjective: of a crimson color.
noun: crimson cloth.

From French cramoisi, from Spanish carmesi, from Arabic qirmizi (of kermes). Earliest documented use: 1423.

“The whippet Narcisse would sit at table upon a cramoisy cushion.”
Geoffrey Wolff; Black Sun; Random House; 1976.

I like a couple of things: I didn't know the word; the quotation comes from Geoffrey Wolff, who wrote a fine biography of John O'Hara--and is also the brother of writer Tobias Wolff, who spent two days with us at Western Reserve Academy--May 18-19, 2005. He spoke to an assembly, visited classes--and signed some books for me!

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