Contempt

And, doesn’t this just take the cake? The lone miner who doesn’t take to drink after the mine closes, but who continues to work industriously at any part-time job he can find, then secrets his wages in a kitty under his bed, is the object of the worst contempt. He has no family, he doesn’t drink, so what is he saving all that money for?

Life is like this, and not just in Glasgow.

LEEK, p. 196

SPOILER ALERT but since it seems quite a lot of you have read Shuggie Bain then just a re-cap of the one precious call Leek makes to his sister Catherine, who moved with her husband to South Africa.

(Self almost wished he was calling the Art Academy to say, Sorry it’s taken me two years, but I accept your acceptance!)

“Catherine, it’s me, it’s Leek . . . I’m sorry. It’s Mammy’s phone. Yes. She’s here actually, she’s standing right next to me.” He looked Agnes up and down suspiciously. There was a pause. Agnes could hear Catherine raise her voice in agitation. “Don’t worry, I never. I promised you I wouldn’t. Do you like South Africa?” There was a pause. “Oh, he’s fine. Nearly died up the Pit but he’s fine. Still a bit funny. You know, funny funny.” There was laughter on the other end . . . “Right, anyway, Catherine, is Donald there? No, I wasn’t checking. It’s just, I’ve got some bad news. It’s just, well, Granny is dead.”

Leek reminds self of another stoic kid, Niall in du Maurier’s The Parasites. And that novel almost destroyed self.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Wullie Campbell, What a Prince

Wullie Campbell (Agnes’s dad) returns from the war to find a strange baby in his house, and a high-end pram.

Ah!

  • “the baby’s pink arms reached out to him, like it knew and trusted the deep well of goodness from which Wullie Campbell had sprung.”

His wife:

  • “She had never let Mr. Kilfeather kiss her, she felt she had to tell him that.”

Wullie takes the strange baby out in the pram. Neighbors hear him whistling all the way down the street!

Self rushed all her errands today (even forgave that young Asian woman in the bright blue compact who cut into her lane and gave her the most WICKED side eye — you can bet self leaned on the horn, the loudest bleeaaaeat she could manage. It’s amazing how rude some people can be) just so she could grab her book and read further about Wullie Campbell and the strange baby and the high-end pram and Mr. Kilfeather.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Self’s Favorite Character

A boy goes scavenging for copper in the depths of an abandoned mine. He brings his younger brother along as “grass.” When he’s finally gotten as much as he can carry, he steps “back into the daylight, but it was too quiet. The grass was gone.”

Stuart’s writing is absolutely amazing.

Where has the grass gone? Where is it?

pp. 86 – 87 SHUGGIE BAIN!!!! (Do Not Read Unless You Want to Know EXACTLY What Happens)

SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT

The way Agnes leaves:

She rouses her sleepy children, gets them dressed (in their Sunday best), flicks on the light in the bedroom where her husband is fast asleep. He wakes, mouth slack, and stares at the apparition of his wife and his two children staring at him from the foot of the bed. She’s wearing a mink, something he gave her in the hope it “would make her happy and hold her at peace from want, if just for a while.”

She: “Right. Thanks for everything, then. I’m away.”

This is really solid, over-the-top, a-hair-short-of-melodramatic writing.

A chapter or so ago, Agnes’s daddy gave her a solid thrashing. Self rather enjoyed how he did it, with a minimum of fuss. He waited until she was 39 and an outright lush, why couldn’t he have taken action sooner!

There have been other jaw-dropping scenes.

It may surprise dear blog readers to know that despite the rough scenes, highlighting the injustices of the world, self is finding this book enormously entertaining.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Agnes: SHUGGIE BAIN, p. 85

Toted this novel to the de Young! Cannot put it down.

It’s Joyce-an. Should have been called Agnes Bain.

  • She went to the mirror in the hall and ran her fingers through her hair; the black curls bounced and folded back on themselves tightly. She ran a line of fresh red lipstick across her mouth. Not bad for twenty-six, she thought. Twenty-six years of sleep.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Agnes in SHUGGIE BAIN (Spoiler Alert)

Self hungrily read almost all the Shuggie Bain reviews because she hates to become vested in a character only to have it end with that character committing suicide.

She’s just past p. 50 and it almost seems as if Agnes is dead. She sets fire to her room when she hears her husband come home. Then she holds Shuggie in her arms and pretends like it’s a game. Shuggie, who has to be the most dysfunctional mama’s boy in the long line of literary mama’s boys, lies passively (but observantly!) in his mother’s arms as the room gets smokier and smokier.

The husband comes in when he smells the smoke, doesn’t say a word, rips the burning curtains off the rods and tosses them out the window. Self thought Agnes was dead until the very last line of the chapter.

Next chapter, point of view switch to Catherine, Shuggie’s older sister. Catherine’s almost home when she sees a pile of scorched curtains on the ground and “recognized them to be the same as her mother’s, burnt and still smoking.” Catherine being a very smart girl, she puts two and two together and thinks to herself: This is not a good sign.

Self doesn’t know what the hoo-ha is about Thatcher in the reviews. Mebbe Thatcher is responsible for this family’s dysfunction, but it’s boring to think that way. She’d rather read a book about family dysfunction without having to blame the dysfunction on politicians. Self’s enjoyment of angst depends entirely on whether she believes a family has agency in its own self-destruction.

So far, the Thatcher references have been minimal. Thank the Lord!

Just One Person from Around the World: San Mateo Farmers Market

The Just One Person from Around the World Photo Challenge is hosted by ThatTravelLadyInHerShoes. Read more about the challenge, think about participating, and look at the wonderful contributions.

During the California primaries, early last year, self campaigned for Elizabeth Warren. While she was tabling for Warren at the San Mateo Farmers Market, a young girl stopped by the table to chat. She was carrying a book, one of self’s favorites. Self just had to take her picture.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Shuggie Bain

  • She got her teeth from her daddy’s side and the Cambpell teeth had always been weak, they were a reason for humility in an otherwise handsome face.

Even though she’s just starting, self can see why this novel won the 2020 Booker Prize. It’s the voice.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Poetry Saturday: Carlos Bernardo Gonzalez Pecotche

from Bases for Your Conduct, a compilation of teachings the author passed on to his son, Carlos Federico Gonzalez, and published posthumously by the author’s widow. This is from the 3rd edition, published 2012.

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