Began reading Edward P. Jones’ All Aunt Hagar’s Children on the plane home from Washington (Wow, the reading was almost a week ago! How is that possible ???). The thing with an Edward P. Jones’ story is, you have to read it twice. Which is the only way. Because the narrative style is so intricate, you read and read and by the time you get to the end of the story, your head is upside down and you think, What was this story about anyway?
But when you go back and re-read, the stories bloom, they really do. They are so beautiful. Like prose poems. Looong prose poems.
So, this is the reason it’s taken self a week to read 257 pages (And, as dear blog readers well know, self’s usual rate is two books a week!)
Here she is on a story, “Adam Robinson Acquires Grandparents and a Little Sister” (which self thinks is an extremely disappointing title: because that is exactly what the story is about, how “Adam Robinson acquires . . . ” etc etc. But, once again, self digresses). It’s a great story. The one before it, “Common Law,” was pretty great as well (It’s probably the most horrific story self has ever read about domestic violence). In the Adam Robinson story, a six-year-old boy, the title character, has just been re-united with his grandparents. The boy’s parents have disappeared. The boy has been missing for two years, and by the time the grandfather finds him again, the boy has suffered something unspeakable. There are scars on his back. When the boy tells his grandmother he knows a song, it turns out the song is nothing but “a bunch of nonsense words” (How heartbreaking is that?)
Understandably, the grandfather, Noah, has a pretty bad case of insomnia, worse even than self’s:
For many nights after Adam’s arrival, Noah had managed to get some three hours of sleep. But Tuesday night he slept for no more than two hours. After lying with his eyes open for an hour and trying to will himself back to sleep, he got up at about two and went quietly out of the room.
Self loves the way Noah seems to think that sleeping three hours a night is a good night’s sleep! A few paragraphs on, there is a passage that could only have been written by someone who knows intimately the sufferings of the unable-to-sleep:
About three he put his feet up on the couch. At four he went to the refrigerator and got a slice of cheese, the throw around his shoulders. At four-thirty he went in and saw that Adam was asleep. At five he went back for two more slices of cheese and folded them and dipped them into the mayonnaise jar. At a quarter to six the deliveryman dropped the newspaper at his door and Noah opened the door and stood at the threshold with the newspaper in his hand and looked at the metal stairs that led up to the roof.
Noah’s wife, on the other hand, “had always been able to fall asleep within five minutes of putting her head on the pillow.” Which is exactly like hubby: He will say, I’m going to sleep. And then he does sleep. And he is fully capable of sleeping for ten, eleven hours at a stretch. Self has always been extremely envious of this ability. She was even more envious when she read somewhere that people who have insomnia do not live as long as people who get healthy amounts of sleep (!!@@##)
Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.