Reading Recovery

Published in the year of his death from cancer, Henning Mankell’s After the Fire is a slow examination of a seventy-year-old’s confrontation with solitude and loss.  The protagonist, a retired doctor,  lives in a archipelago being visited by an arsonist, and we begin at the site of the first fire. Finding the arsonist is relegated to the background, as what it means to live in a community where trust is replaced by wariness is explored, even as death and old age is the larger specter in the forefront.  Yet this is an optimistic novel, where friendship and family, however distant, is embraced, sometimes gingerly, sometimes with affection.

This was the one of the last books I read before I broke my wrist, but not the last book I’ve read since.  There was a fatalistic stoicism in the narrative that strikes me deeper as  I now try to fill my days with no-impact activity.  Thus constrained to cat care, lackluster weeding, a great deal of sighing, a fascination of one-handed bottle opening techniques, elevating my arm on pillows, watching repeats of mysteries, instagram, I am reading with an awareness that my situation could have been worse.  The Great Believers by the quite brilliant Rebecca Makkai, a Claire Messud novel, Elif Safak‘s Forty Rules of Love,and a wonderful novel by Caitlin Macy called Mrs. Now, biding my time, easing insomnia, I am romping through Kevin Kwan‘s Crazy Rich Asians, which will become a film*. it has an all-Asian cast, for it is story about Asians.  Apparently, one filmperson wanted the heroine to be re-cast white, but no.  She will be a wary non-rich, non-crazy Asian woman portrayed by an Asian.

Sometimes  the fates shift the balance.

*the book is different than what the film preview shows, from dialogue to fashion, alas.

mist, heat, light, rain

I broke my wrist.

I broke my wrist on Wednesday, planning to leave for London on Monday.

I broke my wrist on Wednesday, planning to leave for London on Monday, attend a masked ball ballet on Thursday, after visiting the queen’s gallery.

I wanted to meet an old dear friend and his dog, visit museums and gardens galore, and see how many cake shops and tea rooms I could visit.

I was going to research in the British library, see a scholar on south asian art, but I broke my wrist on Wednesday.

I uploaded the London transport app, the London bus app, trip-mapper, and culture whisperer with high hopes, or no hopes because it was practical. I bookmarked a dozen or more must-see lists.

Then I was going to fly to Moscow, visit St Basil’s, the kremlin, go for a banya, drink at the metropole, flood instagram with photos of old world Russian architecture from The Golden Ring.  I planned to eat blini. dark sweet bread. Food from Georgia. But for the wrist.

I planned to return to London, see Mark Rylance in Othello, hear Sir Simon Brattle conduct at  Royal Albert Hall, and return, sated, tired, and fully limbed.

That was the plan… but my tryst was with a trying wrist.

Drinking Chocolate, Verb & Noun

Indira Ganesan, Drinking Chocolate, 2018

 

Let me try to describe it.  You open your mouth to take a taste, but it is like swallowing a thick river.  Then you remember to sip, and the maneuver works.  It is chocolate, but more so, in a cafe crowded for the weather, customers lined up for “hugs in mugs” ( TM) and hot mocha.  I order two thin chocolate lemon peels, thinking of espresso.  The taste complements, tart sweet.  Actually, that is almost the name of a smoothie here, made with beets, cukes, and more good things.  An eleven-year-old in this sweet shop orders it ; bless him.

Sometimes when the “here” is just right

Indira Ganesan, Silkie Chicks in a Provincetown Storefront window, 2018

It doesn’t always happen, but I was so full of affection for my town recently.  The film festival was in town, so that was fun.  Saw this, this, and this.  And this, this and this. They were all in, in a word, phenomenal.  The audience voted for its favorite.  One day between films I ate a sundae for dinner, making sure to get my protein and fruit: peanut butter cup ice cream with cacao, I mean hot fudge, and a maraschino cherry.  If that wasn’t enough to put a townie in a good mood, then seeing a cluck of chicks in a store window was.  Not just any chicks, but Silkie Chicks who frankly look like muppets when grown, or perhaps baby snow owls. John Waters rode by on his bike. Molly Shannon took a bow. And possibly Rachel Maddow was out on a stroll, though, sadly,  I would not have recognized her.* It felt perfectly right to be be where I was, in town, watching art films, thinking about the choices one makes in life in pursuit of art and work, and how the world reacts.  .  Life recedes, but it comes back quickly, with the news.

 

*before rightly she lost her compusure and breaking down in tears reading about  babies kept in cages as required by governmental order.  Our government.