Jan 21 2020, 10:10pm
I was going through a bit of a bad patch there, and needed something light. So I tried reading The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan, which from the cover looked like one of those fairly fluffy romances with a bookstore in it - just the ticket I thought! But it's not light-hearted; the people in it are all struggling with very real problems that don't get solved easily. She's a good writer, and I will pick it up again, but it didn't suit my mood at the time.
been struggling a bit to find something good
Then I tried Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey, which is fluffy in the extreme. But it annoyed me because even I as an American knew that people in the "county" social sphere of early 20th-century England would not act like that, say that, etc. It just kept jarring me with wrongness. Plus, the mystery is poorly handled; mostly the lady would-be detective has a series of conversations with people who know nothing beyond gossip; there are very few actual clues, people necessary to the story show up only as needed in contrived ways. . . I could go on, but suffice it to say I was mostly bored AND irritated.
So I turned to nonfiction and read Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, who is a superb writer. It's the story of how she found out that she was not the biological daughter of her beloved "father" - and the rabbit hole she went down trying to figure out how that came to be (both her parents were dead), who her real father was, and what it all meant to her. The major shock was that she always considered herself Jewish, but she was blonde and blue-eyed in a dark family and never felt quite like she belonged there, and finding her very WASP father made sense--while calling into question her very identity.
Halfway through I found myself thinking "well, clearly she is Jewish because oy vey, the kvetching!" A good deal of the book is her obsessing over 'who am I really" - when it's a moot point, because if your mom is Jewish, you're Jewish (and because Dani is Jewish, so is her son). I came to feel that it was a question of race more than religion, of looks rather than inner sense of self, and that bothered me.
But as she comes to terms with her new reality, the book gets more interesting. She talks a lot about medical ethics, the ethics of privacy (when her sperm father donated, he was promised absolute anonymity, but DNA testing made that impossible), and what makes a sense of identity, anyway? And she writes it as a story, so that my attention was held throughout. In fact, one of those books that I had to tell myself "it is midnight, put the book down and go to sleep!"
I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around Ö The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.
-- Gaston Bachelard
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NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967
my blog: https://jodybower.com/myths-archetypes-in-film/