1. AOTW: I could easily present this to the woman, who, at the grocery store the other day, saw a cashier wave Joyce and me unto the next line (which she'd just opened); this near-winner-woman was behind us and immediately swooped over to get ahead of us in the newly opened line. Bad, bad, bad. But, I fear, there was a more deserving winner in recent weeks. His name: Daniel Osborn Dyer. And here's what he did: Lying on his back in the ER (see previous posts), he was silently correcting the grammar and usage of those very medical professionals who were working to figure out what was wrong with him--and to help him. (He heard "lay down"; he thought "lie down"; he heard "Do you feel nauseous?"; he thought, "Nauseated." And so on. Our winner's only humanizing virtue in all of this: He did not speak these corrections aloud. And he well knew he was the AOTW.
2. As I've posted earlier, I've had some trouble reading in recent weeks (blurry vision), but I was able to finish two books this week.
- Dan Chaon is a writer whom I invited to the WRA campus in the spring of 2011. A teacher at Oberlin, he spent the day on campus on April 11--visiting my classes (and some others), delivering a talk to the entire WRA community. His new novel then was Await Your Reply, which my students had read.
The kids liked him a lot--and enjoyed his novel. His new one, which I finished early last week, is Ill Will, a thriller (psychological and otherwise) with multiple points-of-view. Chaon (pronounced SHAWN) employs the uncertainty principle: Someone is murdering young college men (or is he?); an adopted son murdered the parents of his new family (or did he?); a young son of the murdered parents knew the adoptee had done it (or did he know?); years later, a former policeman (or is he?) helps the son, now a shrink, with the murders (or does he?). And on and on.
'Tis a twisted tale, subtle and gripping, and will keep you, Dear Reader, doubting your own judgment and instincts as you proceed to the surprising ending.
- I also finished the brand-new memoir by Richard Ford, Between Them: Remembering My Parents. Visitors to this site know that I recently completed reading all of Ford's works--in the order of publication--so I was glad to have another. This is a tentative memoir: Ford is bright enough to know what we can't know--and he does not presume to "understand" everything--or maybe even anything--about the quiet lives of his parents, both now deceased. I don't believe I've ever seen so many question marks in a memoir--a punctuation mark that ought to be ubiquitous in such a speculative genre.
He has organized the volume in two major sections--one devoted to each parent. In his Afterword, he says that he wrote his mom's portion thirty years ago; his dad's, more recently.
We learn a bit about the author, of course, as we read. He was--to say the least--a "late bloomer"; he had trouble in school--even some trouble with the law--but both parents were, well, latitudinarian, especially Dad (although he was also sometimes violent). Later, Mom never really understood why he wanted to be a writer--thought he ought to get, you know, a real job--this advice delivered when he was a published respected author and teaching at Princeton!
I loved the book--wept (always a good sign)--and was deeply impressed with his humility, with his quest, with his admission that there are things we can never know.
3. We're enjoying streaming some recent episodes of the Brit detective series Jack Taylor (it's set principally in Ireland--in Galway). The stories are rough, to say the least (sometimes hard to watch), but the actor who plays Taylor--Iain Glen--is terrific, as are some of the minor players. I noticed (I'm slow, slow) that the shows are based on a series of novels by Ken Bruen, so I nabbed one on Kindle a couple of days ago, started it, liked it ... guess I gotta read them all, eh? The shows are available to stream on Netflix.
4. Nearly finished with that amazing multi-part documentary (won the Oscar this year), OJ: Made in America. So disturbing to watch, so impossible not to watch ... It's on Hulu for streaming.
5. A Final Word--from one of my online word-of-the-day services ...
- from dictionary.com
saudade noun [soh-dah-duh]
1. (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent: the theme of saudade in literature and music.
... “The Girl From Ipanema” was a potent distillation of the concept of saudade, a feeling of melancholic nostalgia that characterizes so much Brazilian music. ... Longing for the unattainable, and an acute sense of the moment’s slipping away: That’s saudade.
-- Stephen Holden, "Brazilian Yearning and Imminent Loss," New York Times, March 21, 2014
Portuguese saudade ultimately derives from Latin sōlitāt-, the stem of sōlitās “loneliness, solitude.” (Latin -l- between vowels is lost in Portuguese; Latin -t- between vowels becomes -d- in Portuguese and Spanish.) The original Old Portuguese form soidade was altered to saudade under the influence of the verb saudar “to salute, greet” (from Latin salūtāre “to keep safe, pay one's respects”). Saudade entered English in the 20th century.