Archive for March, 2012

Of Late in Books

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I’ve read some good books lately:

1) Mrs. Somebody Somebody, by Tracy Winn. A fantastic debut collection of interwoven stories about various people living, working, and loving (or not) in Lowell, MA throughout the 20th century. I was struck by its tonal perfection, its patient (not slow) pacing, and its warmth. A compassionate, loving, companionable book. Just lovely.

2) Carry the One, by Carol Anshaw. I’m a huge Anshaw fan, even though none of her books has charmed me as much as her first, Aquamarine. And it had been so long since her previous novel (9 years!) that I undertook some serious tail-wagging when this one fell through the mail slot. I’m happy to report that it’s quite good—not mind-blowing, but solid, enjoyable, smart. I felt happy to be in its hands.

3) Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray. Hilarious, rolicking, and deeply sad. I was securely on the ride until about 75% through, when I (it) became bogged down in its tireless (and a wee bit tiresome) catalog of too many characters’ downward spirals. Some skimming ensued (Sorry, Mr. Murray!), but it’s still a great book, well worth reading. Very alive. And pretty much custom-made for a movie adaptation—which, wow. Looks like Neil Jordan is directing! Two words, John Diller: OPENING NIGHT.

Oh, and here’s something funny: It’s 672 pages! Which is something Kindle kept from me, as Kindle is wont to do. I hate that, but I also kind of love it. It means that when I tuck into a book, I do so without prejudice as to what sorts of events might happen when.

In other news, guess whose new movie is coming out in May? If I could buy tickets now, I would.

10 Years of Rep

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

As loyal readers (hi, Mom!) know, John and I are season subscribers to the Berkeley Rep. Earlier this week on a hike at Wilbur, we mused about the past 10 years of shows there—70 in all, after we see the final two this season. We began to recall names and details, partly as a way of cataloguing our past 10 years together.

“I wonder if we can name every play we’ve seen,” I said.

“There’s no way,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll even come close.”

Challenge ON.

I love a memory or a listing challenge. I’m not sure why, although it probably has something to do with my time-obsessed and order-craving brain. John seems content to live in a world with fuzzy edges (and even middles), but I’m always trying to get things as crisp as they can be. Neatness satisfies me.

At any rate, when we returned to our room, I whipped out a pen and began to list show titles. Within a short time we had 50. Over the next hour or so, our list crept up to 60. And over the next day, we got it to 66—just 2 shy of the 68 we’ve seen thus far. Not perfect, but pretty darned close. It was exhilarating.

Last night, when we returned home, we checked the Rep’s website for a list of past shows. What we discovered was this:


True, we had listed a few that hadn’t been included in the main season, but we had also seen fewer than 68. For whatever reason, we failed to attend several shows during our first season as subscribers. So when the final numbers penciled out, we had a 100% recall rate.

It was a supremely fun way to celebrate an anniversary—and no doubt a testament to the very memorable stuff happening over at the Rep.

Been a Long Time Gone

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Nelly, it’s been ages. And I have time only for dribbles:

1) I was fascinated by the NYT Magazine cover story on Sunday, about 18 girls in the same town struck by the same twitching/ticcing condition. I don’t want to ruin it for you (read it!), but the thing I am most struck by is the cultural resistance to acknowledging feelings and what that resistance can wreak. Especially since . . .

2) In preparation for the new season of Mad Men, I’ve been reading old recaps over at T.Lo, and they’re always going on about how different it was in the 60’s, when everybody had secrets and so many things simply couldn’t be spoken. True enough, and yet it seems that at least in one American town, the gestalt still refuses to acknowledge and support normal human suffering. And that doesn’t seem good for anyone.

3) There’s a quote in the NYT article that goes something like this: “It’s not psychological, it’s neurological.” Setting aside the fact that no disease should be shameful either way, I thought to myself, “And . . . how are those different?” Our feelings live in our nervous system, right? Same-same? People hate to be told that “It’s all in your head.” But isn’t everything we experience, pretty much, in our heads?

4) The rains have come. Late and probably far too few, but we need them, and I’m happy for all the dry-mouthed living beings in Northern California. On the other hand, we have a leaking skylight. 7 years ago when we moved into our previous house, John redid the roof and put in beautiful, non-leaking skylights. 3 months ago we moved into this house, which needs a new roof and has an old, leaking skylight. Alas.

5) Speaking of husbands: We’ve been together 10 years! Not married for that long, but together. Our anniversary was in January, but we’re just now able to celebrate. Next week we head to Wilbur Hot Springs for 5 days of what we hope will be pure ease and comfort—baths, naps, food, walks, and back to the baths. Yum.

6) Said husband is also having a birthday (Thursday! Send him lovies!), and it’s a sign of the times that I didn’t order his presents until today. By which I mean, a) home renovation and b) 10 years. I think at a certain point, material presents lose most of their importance or even interest, and the daily loving connection overshadows any other kind of gesture you can make. Even “I love you,” which is always worth saying (and hearing), can’t hold a candle to the living evidence of that love. Or so I’m thinking today.