Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sometimes I Like Shade

Anna and Marilynne, 2012

I've switched to tea, but decided to drive into town this morning for a cappuccino.  Whenever I ease into a comfortable rhythm I feel the necessity to break out, but that is a topic for another day.  Right now I'd like to discuss a few other things.

First, the morning pace here.  It is special, and somehow even more enticing in town than out.  It sweeps you away, but in a way opposite to what one might imagine when thinking of being swept away.  It does so with its slowness rather than its speed.

Today this pace reminds me of a bit of Thoreau Anna Quindlen referenced in her latest book.

It is a great art to saunter. 
                Henry David Thoreau

Indeed it is.  I'm going to try and hold on to these words.

I'm also swept away by the mood created by the author I am reading.  It filters the way I see all that is around me, even when I am not reading.

I've just finished Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson and am beginning Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, a title for some reason I cannot stop transposing, by Anna Quindlen.  I don't often read memoirs, but found this one displayed on the front table in the library and decided to do something different.

Beginning Anna Quindlen's memoir is like lounging on a sofa with a good girlfriend, chatting, and sharing a bottle of wine.  Finishing Housekeeping, even though it was my second reading, was like being lost in a haunting dreamscape, one that demanded empathy for situations far from my own reality, and prompted me to see similarities between the characters and myself where at first it seemed there were none.

When I read Anna Quindlen's introductory words after being immersed in Marilynne Robinson's world, the shift is so abrupt it is almost disorienting, but I don't mind change that creates such feelings of twist and turn in life.  They deliver me from the dull and unimaginative.

I'm enjoying my time with Anna while feeling somewhat nostalgic for Marilynne's darker landscape and characters.  I do believe I might be more of a haunting dreamscape type of reader, but who wants to do the same thing all of the time?  I can't even eat the same breakfast for more than a couple of days in a row.

Then there is the matter of my mother’s abandonment of me.  Again, this is the common experience.  They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are so lost in thoughts of their own, and soon or late they disappear.  The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise.
Marilynne Robinson
It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again. 
Anna Quindlen

26 comments:

  1. I felt nostalgic for Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go when I finished it recently, wanting to linger in the mood the novel evoked, not wanting to disrupt the feelings conjured by starting something new.

    But I am ready to move on - although a little reluctantly- to Proust's Swann's Way (perhaps, with a cup of Twinings' English Breakfast:-)

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    1. Oh yes, Never Let Me Go truly takes you to another world. Enjoy Proust. I've moved on to Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea now. Aren't I adventurous (grin)?

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  2. Sauntering is indeed a great art. And one I haven't mastered, having had too much practise at 'walking with purpose'. It makes me a bad tourist!

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    1. But 'walking with purpose' can be helpful, at times.

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  3. We should all perfect the art of sauntering. It sounds as if you are enjoying your stay in the country.

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    1. I am enjoying myself, most of the time. Hoping you get a little sauntering in this weekend.

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  4. I wish I had your book list a couple hours ago. I was at the bookstore and could have used your recommendations. Cafe, post office, consignment store, bookstore... the rest of the time slowly sauntering. We're in sync...

    You sound happy and in a good place. Glad you're having such a wonderful summer. X

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    1. I like your style, Janis. I hope you found something nice to read, but even if you didn't, it is good to know you fit sauntering into your day. And I do feel in a good place. Thank you for noticing.

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  5. Anna Q's quote just made me cry.

    I know. Thank god I know.

    xo Jane

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    1. I knew you'd get it, Jane. By the way, hearing Harry Chapin during lunch today made me teary.

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  6. "Housekeeping" is a hauntingly beautiful book, and Robinson's "Gilead" is on my list to read. The New Yorker has a short, interesting piece on her that resonated with me, and, perhaps will with you, too.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/05/marilynne-robinson.html

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    1. Thanks, Rachael. She's such an intriguing person.

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  7. Does that mean you're still at the cottage? How delicious, to devour book after book. Today I fantasized all day about berry picking and jam making - now I have a new fantasy for tomorrow about a different kind of hunger.

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    1. Yes, Stacy. Still here and will be for a while. I'm looking forward to berry picking.

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. (I am the author who removed their comment but am commenting again in true clothes) Where was I? I have that exact quote from Robinson in my notebook but the one from Anna Q made my skin shiver in recognition. I'm going to track it down - it sounds just what I need to read right now. That terrace and your sauntering days really appeal to me. I'll enjoy them through you.

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  10. I love those quotes. They express such vulnerable truths. They give me hope and solace too as I'm trying to feel my way around myself again.

    In my experience, the mood created by an author not only seeps through in how I see, but also how I feel.

    X E.

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  11. I'm struck by Marilynne Robinson's quote about her mother. I wonder how many people feel that way about their mother. My mother abandoned me if you will, only because cancer took her away so young. But I will never walk to fast for my children or forget them. It makes me sad that people may have experienced that in a profound way. I think I also live in a different mothering world than most people I encounter who are just ready to get their "lives" back, whatever that means.

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  12. It is indeed a great art to saunter - I shall keep that with me. I like your observations of Marilynne and Anna, and how the shift from one to the other is abrupt. Do you find that elsewhere, the abrupt shift from one situation, person, environment? Some days I feel it often. It can be disorientating, but also somehow illuminating.
    Marilynne's excerpt makes me think of my mother. Not that she abandoned me, quite the opposite, but I wonder if there were times when she subconsciously walked ahead, in her own world...perhaps we all do in some way at times...
    "And finally I was what I was again" - how wonderful.
    Annie x

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    1. Yes, Annie. I do find it elsewhere. I'm sensitive to transition. And I too found "And finally I was what I was again" wonderful.

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  13. Beautiful quotes and new books for me to discover. However, as I read here, it suddenly strikes me that I eat the same breakfast almost every day.

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    1. Hello, Poshyarns. I'm happy to know you eat the same breakfast almost every day. The world would be so dull if we were all alike.

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  14. Sauntering is a wonderful way to get the creative juices flowing. I often saunter around my neighborhood just thinking and coming up with more thoughts...which lead to more...I also enjoy simply "looking".

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  15. I know of neither of these books.
    off to the library site I go.
    I am intrigued by the new environs.

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