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.

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.

The End of Life

I have a friend whose elderly mother lives with her and is driving her crazy. Her mother was once a talented artist, an intellectual with myriad interests. Now, my friend says, “she gets up in the morning and makes a cup of coffee and she’s so slow, doing it. I mean, I just watch her sometimes to see how she can possibly be so slow. Then she sits at the kitchen table and talks about what might be for lunch. I just can’t stand it! All she talks about is her cup of coffee in the morning and the weather and what her next meal will be. I really wonder . . . is there any meaning to the end of life?

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 193

Gah. This is a depressing book. The author’s final reflections are “How young and strong and beautiful they were” and she remembers telling her mom, “I’ll miss you.” (To which self is tempted to say: HA. HA. HA.) To her readers, she says that her parents “belonged to each other more than they did to us.” (Imagine! Incredible!) The last page talks about love and blah blah.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Paragraph, p. 187, I’LL BE SEEING YOU

The author sounds so patronizing here, it is driving self crazy:

  • My mother says no, she will stay where she is. She also says she would like to try embroidery, and so I send her some skeins of floss and some needle and a hoop. I also send her some yarn and knitting needles, in case she would like to join the group of women who knit sweaters for charity every Friday. She has made a new friend named Betty who still drives, which is the high school equivalent of being head cheerleader and prom queen and president of the student body and highest-ranking member of the National Honor Society. My mother has also signed up to go to Byerly’s grocery store on the bus, and sometimes she sits at the kitchen table to play double solitaire with my dad. When I hear all this, Cat Stevens comes into my head. Morning has broken like the first morning.

Only a chapter to go. What an excruciating read this has been. Next up is Walter Moseley’s Blood Grove. Haven’t read Moseley in such a long time, happy to re-discover him.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The System

The system is broken. When you have adult children hustling parents off into “assisted living,” and giving up the home they’ve lived in for four and a half decades.

The parents give in because, at the end of life, we all become children again. We become helpless. It makes me angry.

3/4 of I’ll Be Seeing You is about what is past. The past is very pretty. The present isn’t. And the future doesn’t even bear contemplating.

Me thinking as I read: Why would anyone want to look at a bunch of total strangers and do crafts? What is so damn delightful about living in a place where you have the crafts option? Who cares about keeping busy? Why doesn’t “assisted living” have a library?

At the same time, the parents are such a burden to the author. She has meals with them, every gesture delicately described.

To me, the parents are functional. Childish, but functional. In the home, they become truly lost, not themselves. They have to adhere to meals at set times, and talking to people. Isn’t the fun of growing old the fact that you can do whatever you like? Because you’ve earned it, right?

And then the big end-of-life talk. Which comes, deadeningly, at the end. It’s so predictable, and really sad.

This is the third week that my mother has been in hospital in Manila. She got COVID. No one in the family has seen her. No one can visit because COVID is raging through the Philippines. She has a trach.

But she is a fighter to the very core. She is somehow hanging on, and a few days ago they transferred her out of the “critical” section of COVID patients. What I think I am trying to say is: Don’t count the very old out. Never, ever count them out. Give them that last shred of dignity, and don’t count them out.

I am nearly through with this book. On p. 171, author states she hopes her 90-year-old father “will find a friend.” His “assisted living” place offers the author a partial schedule of the father’s daily activities:

  • current events
  • exercise
  • lunch

The children auction off of all their parents’ precious things: “the auctioneer arrives promptly” and offers them five hundred dollars.

I am outraged by the author’s nostalgia for all the events that happened in her parents’ house. How dare she indulge in touchy-feely emotions while her parents aren’t allowed to have them. She expects them to be “objective,” to accept that what is happening is inevitable.

REALLY?????

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

I’LL BE SEEING YOU: A Memoir

The author persuades her aged parents to go into assisted living. She tells them to try it, they can always move back home if they don’t like it.

Self will never. Ever. Especially after the past year.

You set foot in a certain kind of river and you know that as soon as you do, the current will have you.

I’ll Be Seeing You, p. 30

Life in Colour: Pink

Another photo challenge!

Life in Colour: a different color for every month of the year. Hosted by Travel Words.

April’s color is PINK.

Here’s a night light self has had since she was a little girl. Inside the cottage (you can’t really see, sorry), a wolf in a bonnet lies under the bedcovers, waiting for little Red Riding Hood to approach. The roof is a bright, cheerful pink.

She brought this lamp with her to the States. The light broke and for many years it stayed broken. Then, a few years ago, in Mendocino, self met a wonderful woman named Jewel — an artist AND an electrician! — who fixed it for her.

Now it shines every night on what used to be son’s old desk.

“Oh, Grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“The better to hear you with.”
“Oh, Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”
“The better to see you with.”
“Oh, Grandmother, what big hands you have!”
“The better to grab you with!”

“Little Red Riding Hood,” from the Brothers Grimm

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Angst in All the Devils Are Here

Whew! The angst in this mystery. There’s enough angst here to power a whole galaxy. Everyone in the family is a suspect to Inspector Armand Gamache, including his own son!

Did self mention the angst?

The angst also comes wrapped in a bow in the person of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, former hardscrabble kid (from East Montreal; self never having been to Montreal, or even to Quebec, she can only imagine the horrors of growing up in East Montreal), “found” and made his boss’s No. 2, thereby earning a) the love of the boss’s daughter; b) the hatred of the boss’s son; and c) the curiosity of every reader of Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache’s series (mostly female, self’s assuming)

Better than the mystery is the suspicion, the miscommunication, the times we worry for Jean-Guy Beauvoir (there’s “something wild” about him, muses a character in this book), the times he’s called stupid by a prissy female colleague (French), the times Inspector Gamache’s son Daniel looks at him with deep hatred, the times Jean-Guy looks at his boss and mentor with fierce protectiveness.

Self doesn’t know if Jean-Guy is as integral to every Inspector Armand Gamache book as he is in this one, but let’s just put it this way: if you do not like the character of Jean-Guy Beauvoir, you will probably not like All the Devils are Here.

Self, it turns out, does like the character, hence she likes this installment (#16!!!) of the Inspector Armand Gamache series, very much.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Day 2, BRIGHT SQUARES: April Photo Challenge

Self will try to post a bright square (or two) a day through April. Thank you, The Life of B, for hosting this very interesting photo challenge!

Square # 1: Bruce Lee Postcard in son’s room

Square # 2: Variations on a Field, by Irish print artist Pam de Brie

Flower of the Day (FOTD), 28 March: TULIPS

Linking this to Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge.

This afternoon, met a friend at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. It was a beautiful day. Didn’t expect to see so many people. The areas closest to the house were roped off.

The tulip beds were gorgeous.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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