Book Corner 2019.17


Reading Jane Austen by Jenny Davidson

Bought this semi-impulsively, needing some quick reading material during travel.  Though I was afraid it would read like one of those “book report” books (here’s a quote to support my thesis… here’s another… but what about this one), maybe I am being non-objective due to my love of the subject matter, but it never got tiresome.  AND, it’s inspiring me to, well, re-read Jane Austen.

Book Corner 2019.16


So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

This is my third Lionel Shriver, and I didn’t love it as much as the first two, because the secondary plot was a bit annoying and tiresome.  Without it, the book may have garnered five stars and been a more satisfactory length as well.

Our hero has a dream, and has had it since he was 15: to work and save enough to finally move somewhere cheap enough to live out the rest of his life without having to work anymore.  He marries someone allegedly simpatico, but who manages to find a reason to nix every destination that they explore as a possible retirement grounds.  Having had enough delay, he decides at around age 50 to buy the tickets unilaterally and lay down the ultimatum that he is finally going, to Pemba, an island off the coast of Tanzania, very much hopefully with her, but with or without her.  And she in turn lays down the bombshell that he can’t go, because she’s been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and she’s going to need his health insurance.

Shep loves his wife, and thus do his plans immediately invert.  For the next year plus, it’s all about trying to keep Glynis alive and get her well.  And each chapter begins with a statement of the balance of his life savings, which falls surely, immediately, and then precipitously, eventually to near nothing.

There’s a side plot about his friend.  I won’t summarize that plot or any more of this one…  What is wonderful about Lionel Shriver is that she writes about people like me and situations I know.  Her characters are in my demographic.  These live in Westchester.  They have sometimes unspeakable feelings that I have too.  Nobody really talks about the expense of end-of-life, and how that expense feels to those who have to undertake it, and how it feels to know you aren’t supposed to feel ANYTHING about money when someone’s life is at stake, even if the prognosis is hopeless.

Shep really does love his wife, but he’s not unfeeling about the fact that the means to fulfill his life’s dream is dribbling and then pouring away into her probably futile treatments; and the tragic fact is that he is destined to outlive her, and might still want to pursue his dream.

Oh, and then there’s his aging father and guilt-trip-laying sister.  Yes, these books are really about people like me and situations I know.

It’s all very real and not something you usually read a novel about.  And the ending is FANTASTIC.

Where I’m At

“I feel old” is a cliché.  Let’s say this: 50 feels like a peak after which instead of fighting upwards I’m going to be coasting downwards.  Sometimes it’ll feel like a great coast… sometimes it’ll feel like hurtling and not so good… sometimes it’ll feel like “downhill” in a good way, sometimes a bad way.  But downhill it’ll be.

But there I go living in the future again.  I am still firmly FORTY-SOMETHING.

“Forty”.  Ugh, such an ugly word.  “Fifty” doesn’t have the bad connotation.  Honestly it has something to do with my mom being an awful drunk through her forties but starting to turn into a sweet old lady in her fifties.

50 isn’t an arbitrary milestone to me.  I intend to live to 100.  So it’s the midpoint.

Book Corner 2019.15


The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu

I hardly know what to say about this.  Cantu works as a border patrol agent for the first half of this non-fiction book, wanting to get first-hand experience.  The second half sees him working on behalf of an undocumented deported friend, who is trying to rejoin his wife and three boys in the States after going home to be at his mother’s deathbed.

Just today, VPR reported on the impacts that are resulting from Vermont having seen the smallest influx of refugees into the state for the past decade, thanks to the odious anti-immigration policies made higher up.  There is now a small infrastructure in Burlington and Winooski set up to help support new Americans, and its services are going wanting, and more importantly jobs are going unfilled.  We hear constantly that we need more people in Vermont – more young people, a bigger tax base, more entrepreneurship, a bigger labor pool.  We need people.  And the world is literally full of people begging to come here, and not being allowed to, and for what?

I hardly know what to say about this.


Cheap Thrills


I don’t recall if the spinning wheel charm itself was cheap; it was an Xmas gift (which I asked for, from a booth at the VTS&W Fair).  But it was meant for a bracelet.  I paid a few bucks last night at what we call the Rock Shop (“Global Pathways” on Church St.) to have it put on a big fat clasp so I could wear it on my favorite necklace; and they threw in a repair to the clasp on said necklace too.  I wear this chain nearly 24/7.  The charm may be annoying to wear 24/7, as it gets caught on things, but isn’t it cool?!

And I was reading last night about how much fakery goes into photos that are taken with smartphones.  Apparently, whether or not you explicitly use a filter, the phones are making everything look much better than it “really” does.  Sorry you are always gypped out of full appreciation of my ragged complexion.  I don’t really look as sandpapered as I do in these photos.