There have been a few times in self’s reading life when she encounters a book that she never wants to end. In 2012, those times have been powerfully scarce.
Let’s see which books — of the ones self read in 2012 — can fit into this category? Here are a few:
- Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (the first 3/4 of it), by Rhoda Janzen.
- Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama.
- Three Cups of Tea (even though this book has been discredited, and poor Dave Relin, the guy who co-wrote it with Greg Mortenson, seemed to feel humiliated by the project)
- A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, by Tony Horwitz, one of self’s favorite writers.
- The Last Empress, a novel by Anchee Min.
Self! Will you never get over your infernal lists ???
Back to the ostensible reason for this post, which is this:
Self has now stumbled on a story about killing an animal that is almost as hysterically funny as the previous Champion of All Funny Animal Killing Stories, Dave Sedaris’s piece about killing a mouse (A herculean task. As, the mouse Dave encountered really wanted to live. But — don’t we all? Want to live, that is? Which reminds self of that Morag Joss mystery, the one about the old lady who’s hired to house-sit a castle — aaargh! No, self no! Back to the topic!).
The one self is reading is in Jeannette Walls’ (very wrenching) memoir, The Glass Castle, whose pages self has been doling out in miserly fashion, so that she can ensure she will still be reading it when the New Year rolls around.
The animal in question is a huge, icky rat, a rat that dived headlong into a punch bowl filled with sugar left on the kitchen counter (Let’s just put it this way: Walls’ mother is not going to receive any awards for Good Housekeeping). Walls describes the terribly fraught encounter in this way:
This rat was not just eating the sugar. He was bathing in it, wallowing in it, positively luxuriating in it, his flickering tail hanging over the side of the bowl, flinging sugar across the table. When I saw him, I froze, then backed out of the kitchen.
Next thing you know, this intrepid creature leaps onto the stove, then onto a pile of potatoes, then hisses ferociously at the narrator’s brother when he attempts to kill it with a cast-iron skillet, then establishes sole mastery of the kitchen when the children run out the door.
That night, the youngest in the family, a poor lass named Maureen, is whimpering because she is afraid the rat will come to her bed and bite her.
She tells the narrator she can hear the rat “creeping nearer and nearer.” The narrator calls her sister a wuss and, just to prove it, switches on the light.
There, right next to the sister’s face, is a HUGE NASTY RAT.
After all was said and done, the children did triumph over the rat. But if they expected any praise from their mother, think again:
“Mom said she felt sorry for the rat. Rats need to eat, too,” she pointed out.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.