- Roger Zelazny (from the archives: Bill Crider)
This Fitzgerald story certainly reminds me of this passage.
Here is the final passage in "The Sensible Thing"
“Yes,” he whispered into her lips. “There’s all the time in the world…”
All the time in the world–his life and hers. But for an instant as he kissed her he knew that though he search through eternity he could never recapture those lost April hours. He might press her close now till the muscles knotted on his arms–she was something desirable and rare that he had fought for and made his own–but never again an intangible whisper in the dusk, or on the breeze of night…
Well, let it pass, he thought; April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.
George O'Kelley is in love with Jonquil, a girl from Tennessee (and much like Zelda Sayre from Alabama in FSF's own life). George is an engineer, temporarily working in insurance. Things do not quite work out for them on the first try; George is rather a failure and competing men are lining the porch at Jonquil's house. But he goes off, goes to South America, and wildly succeeds, returning ten months later. They go for a walk in a magnificent garden and it ends with a kiss and the word abpve
(Scott later noted: “Story about Zelda + me. All true.”)
Also reading THINGS WE LOST IN THE WATER, Eric Nguyen for my book group. Speaking of which, Naomi Hirahara zoomed with us last week talking about CLARK AND DIVISION and was a wonderful guest speaker. Can't wait to read EVERGREEN, which comes out next summer.
No movies to report. If GOD'S COUNTRY comes your way, it's worth seeing.
Enjoying REBOOT, BAD SISTERS, THE HANDMAID'S TALE and trying to catch up with various VERAS I have missed over the years on TV. I need a good British mystery now and then, and especially enjoy Ann Cleeves style of mystery. I see SHETLAND is back. I might have to join whichever Brit streamer it's om.
Saturday night, I went with friends to TRINITY HOUSE, a tiny live music venue in Livonia, MI where many local musicians played songs they had written during Covid. So nice to hear live music.
The bus stops at roadside cafes many times and a man named Jim begins to accompany Clara, talking of some magical place. He gets her into the city where her dentists sends her to a surgeon. During most of the story Clara seems only semi-conscious of where she is and what is happening. Of course, gas administered by the surgeon further removes Clara from reality. When it is all finished, Jim is waiting for her and they run barefoot into the hot sand.
Having been through many dental procedures like Clara's it is pretty familiar. And clearly Shirley Jackson has too. Much of the time, I was in awe Clara could navigate from place to place as drug-addled as she was. This story was seen as very Freudian at the time it was published with all those teeth references. Was Jim real? I doubt it. But clearly such a rescue was something Clara wished for. (And maybe Shirley too). If you have seen the Elizabeth Moss movie on Shirley Jackson, Clara is all the more familiar.
Saw See How They Run, which was pretty bad. Eight of us went and our opinions ranged from okay for a Saturday morning to never okay. What a waste of a good cast.
Spent one day exploring Wyandotte, MI, which is along the Detroit River and quite a hip town. A friend of Phil and mine from our Lambertville, NJ days in the late sixties had an art gallery there. He is now dead but we met his widow Patt Slack who now runs it.
Still plowing along on the same book as last week. But I did finish Clark and Division, which Naomi Hirahara will discuss with my book group on Tuesday night. What a nice job she did with exploring the Japanese-Americans sent to Chicago from Manzinaar but also creating characters to care about.
What about you?
William Maxwell was one of my favorite writers. He died about twenty years ago leaving a handful of novels and many shorts stories and essays. My favorite of his novels is TIME WILL DARKEN IT.
When the King family is paid a visit from distant Southern relatives, Austin King, eager to impress a female cousin and repay their kindness to his father, behaves in such a way as to threaten his marriage, his law practice, and his reputation as a young attorney. His pregnant wife is especially torn asunder by his actions.
Maxwell makes every character in this seemingly ordinary story come to life. I can't think of many books I closed so reluctantly and yet with such complete satisfaction. His novels include:
Like the Hemingway story of a few months ago, this is about a couple, probably in Spain or at least in a Spanish speaking country. This couple doesn't know each other well and it isn't clear if they met on this trip or arranged it. (They are probably academics) She is older than him and the story is from her perspective. The plot is mostly about their trips to various beaches, their difficulty in finding places in a foreign country. How the Europeans staying at this residence find them humorous.
One beach had become theirs, even though there really is no theirs.
This couple seems ill-suited to each other. There is an age difference. They take pictures, which she knows they will delete before returning home. He has a family in the States
Now if I wasn't looking for a story to talk about today, would I have finished this? Probably yes because unlike the first story I tried (Kelly Link) this one read easily enough. But even on my third read of a fairly short story, I was still picking up hints on its themes. I think I will read it again too.
Interesting how the author (also of THE GIRLS, based on the Manson girls) doles out information stingily, making you hungry for it. Probably few would have had to read it 4 times to get it all. I think I am a day-dreamy reader, always thinking what I might say were I writing it.
I went to Ann Arbor with a friend and was shocked at how many towering buildings have gone up in the last decade. Their medical center(s) are so dominant now. That must mean the future is in medicine. Visited the beautiful Matthai Gardens. The streets downtown have been pedestrianized and bike lanes are everywhere.
Got my omicron booster today. Quite a long wait, which I never had with the last two boosters.
Watching DOPESICK and THE PATIENT. Finished SLOW HORSES but in the end I was not that impressed. It has a great premise as to a division for failures in MI5, but the crime this one featured seemed dull. And all the scenes were of men driving around in the dark and engaging in man talk. It never lived up to the first brilliant scenes. Ah well, maybe his plots get more interesting. It used to be British series were about the upper crust. Now they all seem to be about gangs, immigrants, and drugs. (So too so many novels from all countries).
No movies of interest.
Off to my writing group in the hope it will spur me to write more.
What about you?
THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS, Erle Stanley Gardiner
Earle Stanley Gardiner can hardly be called a forgotten author, nor
Perry Mason a forgotten character, the books that first introduced these
icons to the public appear to be fading from memory. Or
at least they are in my library, where most of them have been relegated
to the large print shelves so that the patrons who grew up reading
about the singular cases of the granite-hard defense attorney can enjoy
them without squinting.
The earliest Gardiner in our collection is The Case of the Lucky Legs. First published in 1933, it was the fifth of what would be roughly eighty-two Perry Mason adventures. Stilted by our standards, with rigid standards of grammar and punctuation, and---heaven forbid---not a few adverbs, this mystery still grabs the imagination and keeps it there until the last page.
The case starts with a provocative photograph of a pair of shapely female legs, sent to the lawyer by a prominent businessman, who wants Mason to do something about a fraud that has hurt a young lady of his acquaintance. It seems that a movie studio man has been conning innocent girls into competing in a Lucky Legs contest, the winner of which is promised a screen career that never materializes. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse unless the con man confesses.
Unlike the televised, post World War II Perry Mason who has entered our cultural lexicon, the Perry Mason of the 1930s wasn't afraid to get his hands or his ethics dirty---he basically agrees beat a confession out of the huckster, though he does pause to square this plan with the county prosecutor before heading to the man’s hotel. In the lobby, he bumps into a frightened young lady with good-looking gams, so it comes as no surprise---to the reader or our hero---that Mason discovers the murdered body of the con man. Moments before the police arrive, alerted by a neighbor who heard a woman’s screams, Mason extracts himself by a bit of slick trickery and gets to work.
It seems odd that Perry Mason doesn’t set foot in a courtroom in Lucky Legs---he didn't settle into regular trial work until later in the series. It’s clear that Gardiner is till getting to know his character and hadn’t quite settled on his formula. But Mason does tamper with a crime scene, trap himself in a legal corner or two, smoke enough to stun a camel, and bring the murderer to justice at the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour despite numerous red herrings. Furthermore, his client is as lovely and clueless as they come and the man footing the bill is an interfering, opinionated pain in the tuchus. Della Street is smart, sassy, and loyal, while Paul Drake is hangdog, hungry, and resourceful.
These are among the golden elements that have kept Perry Mason going for almost eighty years. They’re well worth a revival, not only as the prototypes to modern legal procedurals or slices of social history, but as terrific who-on-earth-dunnits.
I confess that I check out these books fairly often to keep them off the weeding reports. If that's a crime, I doubt even Hamilton Berger, Mr. Mason's D.A. foil and frenemy, could bring himself to prosecute.
His mother was a terrific cook despite working full-time and food was an important part of their life. This book is full of recipes, advice on buying and cooking food, and the kind of thing it is interesting to hear about--like what they feed actors on sites filming movies and TV shows. He shares great meals he has had all over the world and the people he has had them with. This is a terrific book if food interests you at all.
For more book reviews, please visit Barrie Summy's blog right here.
"Uphill," Mary Miller and "Cheap Suitcase and a New Town," Chris Offutt
These are two beautifully written stories. I enjoyed them both but reading them in succession is probably a mistake. Especially with noir stories whose characters and settings tend to be much alike. Both stories had a female protagonist who was a match for anyone who went up against her.
I have read other work by the authors. BILOXI by Mary Miller and MY FATHER, THE PORNOGRAPHER by Chris Offutt.
The NOIR books is such an extensive series now. Clearly a lot of people have a yearning for these dark stories. I have dipped into these books over the years but have never read an entire volume. How about you guys?Are you fans of this series or noir in general?
Saw HALLELUJAH, the movie about Leonard Cohen at the theater. There were four of us, yet the ticket seller warned us to sit in our assigned seats. The theater held perhaps 200 seats.
Finally getting to SLOW HORSES, which is very good. Also moderately like BAD SISTERS.
A rainy day here. Not many of them this summer.
Reading CLARK AND DIVISION still. I have to spread it out so I won't forget it for the book group. Naomi is going to visit us via zoom. I didn't have much luck with FEN after making my library round it up for me. Reading one strange story is perhaps enough for me.
What's up with you?
from the archives: Rick Robinson
This is Inspector Morse’s ninth outing, if I have the count right, and though I’ve tried to read these in order it’s been a while and I think I pulled this off the shelf out of order. Still, little seems to have changed, perhaps Lewis is slightly more confident, and Morse is an angrier, sadder, boozier man than I remembered from the last one I read.
I liked John Thaw as Morse on the Mystery! and now I can’t read these books without picturing him in the role. No problem there.
This story concerns a group of tourists, all from California, on a tour of Oxford and other historical cities. One of the group is going to present an Oxford museum with The Wolverton Tongue, part of a buckle artifact originally set with three rubies (only one left now). The woman has a heart attack, the “jewel” is stolen, then a lecturer is murdered. Morse is attracted to a woman who drinks too much and is one of the lecturers to the group. With two deaths and a theft, the tour halts while Morse and Lewis investigate the many clues.
Dexter is a pleasure to read, though the last chapter seems overly drawn out in this book. Still, the motives are sound, the red herrings sufficiently convincing, the language satisfying, the clues well if scantily placed, and it’s another good Morse outing. These books are satisfying enough that I never seem to want to read two in a row, but each time I pick one up I’m glad I did. I think I still have a couple unread, so there is more to enjoy ahead. I was lucky enough to meet him at a signing some years ago in southern California, he was a very personable fellow.
If your only experience with Morse is with the televised series, I encourage you to try the books, these are very good.
A mother and her thirty-something son, always close, bond even more strongly in the last days of his life. The story didn't specify an illness, but because it was written in the nineties and it is a wasting disease, you assume it is AIDS. It was made into a movie (HBO) with an all-star cast. I will try and watch it. The last line is the saddest. It is perhaps too sad.
Saw Three Thousand Years of Longing with Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, which was good if not great. Also enjoyed A Love Song with Dale Dicky and Wes Studi. A total of 12 people in these two theaters.
What a lovely week it has been. Although the summer has been hot, I never remember a sunnier one. Hopefully the construction will be done in another six weeks or so. Although the Dream Cruise has ended the racing cars with their loud noise persists. I rewatched American Graffiti this week and it was sadly similar,
I am trying hard to get back to the writing. Wish me luck.
(from the archives)
Ed Gorman was the author of the Sam McCain and Dev Conrad series of crime novels. He is sorely missed.
Here is a review from NPR of the collection.
These are three of the winning quilts from the American Quilt Show I attended in Grand Rapids. Three hundred fifty gorgeous pieces of art. There were many from Taiwan, Japan, Australia and pretty much every country in Europe and every state. Some very traditional but many did not look like quilts at all. Also went to the Gerald Ford Museum and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Quite a lively city. Several great meals. It seems like food has become a high art almost everywhere now. It has become a challenge to identify the ingredients in most dishes.
Sad that BETTER CALL SAUL is done although it ended very satisfactorily to me. Still enjoying RESERVATION DOGS/
Hardly read a word this week.
What are you up to?
“This is how we play the game: pink means kissing; red means tongue. Green means up your shirt; blue means down his pants. Purple means in your mouth. Black means all the way.”
A group of eighth grade girls, from the working people side of the tracks, play a game at recess where they leave themselves open to the desires of their male classmates. When a new girl, Grace, comes to town, she is a year younger so they abandon the game to help Grace with her new school. She is a willing novice to things like stealing, makeup, sneaking into adult movies. There is a constant acceleration of what they teach her, but most of it at her request. But for a long time, they refuse to show her how to play the "game."When she insists, there is a Lord of the Flies scene where the girls initiate her. This is a fairly brutal story, not so much that anything too frightening happens, but in how badly the girls behave. Ng is the author of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE which had a fair share of brutality too. Ng is a skilled writer and the story won a Pushcart Prize.
Kevin at 15. Some day he will look up!
RESERVATION DOGS is as good as ever.
Enjoyed THE TWELVE CHAIR, which I have never seen before. Boy, Frank Langella was a gorgeous young man. I think his looks may have handicapped him in a time when we liked craggy leading men (Dustin Hoffman, Richard Dreyfus, Jack Nicholson). A very cute movie.
Rewatched CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD and again was struck by William Hurt's distinctive acting style. You never forgot his performances.
Reading the Michael Robotham book, WHEN YOU ARE MINE. He writes females so well. And although the first scenes are very familiar, he makes them fresh. Next weekend 1.5 million people will be below my windows watching THE DREAM CRUISE. Hopefully, I will be in Grand Rapids looking at quilts! The noise was intolerable this weekend, as people are already tail-gating. Making your exhaust system make noise shouldn't be allowed. Crotchedy old lady says. This cruise goes on for sixteen miles and includes nine cities. Read about it here. http://www.woodwarddreamcruise.com/
What about you?
"The Story of an Hour' by Kate Chopin was written in 1894.
This is a three-page story that begins with the line, "Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death."
Her husband has been killed in a train accident and Mrs. Mallard immediately cries on hearing it, but asks for solitude and goes into another room. Over the course of the next hour, she suddenly sees the world outside her window as a more beautiful place. She embraces the new freedom that will be hers. "Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.
She will not just be the handmaiden of her husband but can embrace a life with activities that interest her. She is a young woman and it is not too late to make her way in the world. The yoke that marriage puts around her neck is broken.
And then the door opens, and her husband comes in. He was not on that train.
Mrs. Mallard has a heart attack and dies.
There are lots of discussions of this story online. Some writers believe Chopin could only get this story published by having her punished at the end. No one at the time would accept a good woman could rejoice (somewhat) in her husband's death. I don't know if I feel her death is necessary or not. How would the story end otherwise? Would she pretend to be happy her husband is okay? Or would she begin plotting his future death now that she understands herself?
A beautifully written story that says so much in three pages.
Food did not play a big part in my childhood. My mother was an indifferent cook and liked us all to be thin. Which we were. A pound of meat was more than enough for four and a frozen package of green beans was too. I think we lost a lot by not enjoying food together. I can only think of one dish of hers I ever tried to repeat and it still was nothing special. I am not a great cook, but even cooking for myself I try to make a dinner I want to sit down to. There was not a cookbook in our house and the only spices were cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Surely there were others but I can't remember them.
How about your childhood! Was food a big part of it?
Also reading the newest Peter Robinson mystery. I think I have read them all, which is unusual for me nowadays. I have the new Michael Robotham at the library if it ever cools off enough for me to walk there.
It has been such a hot week here I have barely been outside. I would have to walk to the park to sit outside and it just doesn't seem worth worming my way through the construction to get there. A real deficit of this building is there are no sitting areas outside.
TV-Still watching the super-creepy BLACK BIRD. FOR ALL MANKIND has sort of lost my interest even though lots of stuff has happened this season. ONLY MURDERERS IN THE BUILDING also seems lacking. It probably is me.
And rewatching MAD MEN, which is my favorite show ever. Watched a great documentary on Kanopy about the Hollywood photography coming out of the agency Magnum.
Please notice this. http://jerryshouseofeverything.blogspot.com/2022/08/catherine-keane-house-march-7-1949.html
What are you up to?
At the Traverse City Film Festival, the founder's prize was given to a film called GOD'S COUNTRY, which was an adaptation of James Lee Burke's story "Winter Light."
In the original story, a professor at a Montana college, newly retired, confronts two townies who are parking on his land as they hunt. The story escalates as the adversaries rev up their game. The story works very well because of the gorgeous writing, the setting, the plot and characters. And the director God's Country originally made a short film, which stuck pretty closely to this original scenario.
But when Julian Higgins decided to go on and make a full-length film of the story, he made many significant changes.He changes the professor from a white retired man to a still -working Black woman (Thandiwe Newton). The woman was a cop in New Orleans before she came west with her mother. Higgins adds a lot of complexity to her character as well as to the hunters. He adds a town sheriff into the mix who is unable to deal with the hunters. Although I liked the story very much, most of what Higgins added made it a more interesting story to me. See what you think if the film comes your way.
Reading NORMAL PEOPLE by Sally Rooney. Watched not a minute of TV this week.
What have you been up to?