Wednesday, October 10, 2018


So, IPLawGuy, I read a book!

My friend IPLawGuy often lords over me all the books he is reading. "Oh," he says, arching an eyebrow while judging me, "you haven't read the Ruth Scurr biography of Maximilien Robespierre yet? Because it was excellent." At which point I mutter something under my breath while he refills his pipe with loamy tobacco. It's one reason I don't let him drive when we are on a trip.

Anyways, he's wrong. I do read books, and I have written and published three more than he has. I just read one, in fact that I really liked. It's one of those books that has certain images and themes that you just can't get out of your head.

The plot was strikingly simplistic: A mother and daughter engage in a tense battle of wills over the daughter's behavior. The mother, in turns gentle and aggressive in her urgings, implores the daughter to turn away from some of her more destructive behaviors and towards a pattern of healthy self-care. The daughter, full of the vigor of youth, will have none of it-- this is her time to live, to run, to dance. She knows that she is of a moment, a creature defined by her instincts and sensate pleasures. 

Beneath the plot is a delicate subtext: that it is in fact the daughter who controls the dialogue. What the mother wants is not something she can force on her offspring; the young one must want it herself. It is the fate of any parent, I suppose; you can no more force a child into a given action than you can push a string. And there is something even deeper, too, of course. The craving for independence in the daughter is not just resistance but in an important way is the embodiment of growth and fulfillment. The slow drama of growing up, like a glacier calving from the land into the ocean, demands that the child must leave to become truly whole. Dahl's work is subtle and elegant in shading the pain in the mother as she comes to realize this truth.

I found the story compelling, and sat in one place for the two hours it took to finish this relatively short book. It does end well. Kitty does take a nap. And then I did, too.

Right now I am reading Anthony Trollope's first successful book, "Barchester Towers," written in 1857. Its a cutting and hilarious study of the politics, especially the Church politics of the time.

Also "Across the Wide Missouri" by Bernard Devoto written in the 40's. a history of the post Lewis & Clark exploration of "The West." Somehow it became a movie starring Clark Gable.

Also the first volume of Peter Guralnick's Elvis Presley bio, "Last Train to Memphis."

And I'm reading "The Fellowship of the Ring" to my son and "Don't Make Me Pull Over," a history of road trips to one of my daughters

I read “Nap Time for Kitty.”
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