Sunday, May 13, 2012

California Dreaming- A Book Mention

What is better on a rainy afternoon, after one has worked one night shift and is facing another after only 3 hours of sleep,than to sit down with a novel picked up at the library on a whim, and to find one has happened upon a book that is alive and breathing.

I brought home two novels last week. About one I will only say that it is a story about 1930s Manhattan written by a Yalie who works in an investment bank in New York City. The author dispensed with quotation marks, which I found strange in light of the amount of dialogue he used. Perhaps this device would have worked better in a more contemporary story. A story perhaps about your money, and what people too good for the rules of usage have done to it at a place such as J.P. Morgan.

This book did not keep me, not after two chapters. I can abandon books at will, since no one is paying me to review them, and I can get away with saying they just did not interest me.

The second novel is a California story, and that is one of my favorite kinds. "The Barbarian Nurseries", by Hector Tobar, a columnist for the LA Times, is a novel about thwarted dreamers who squander what they have, have no idea what they need, and who may or may not find it in the end. Let us remember what Joan Didion wrote in her "Notes from A Native Daughter", in "Slouching Towards Bethlehem"-

"-California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension;in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things had better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent".

And it is on this end edge where Scott Torres and his wife Maureen live with their three children and their last household Mexican, their maid Areceli. The money bubble the Torres family has drifted on has broken, as has the Dot Com company from whence the good life came. No more money for the gardener or the children's nanny. No more money for dream landscaping with cacti and "non-threatening succulents". Or for expense account lunches which will be ruined by overdrawn accounts.

I can share no more story now, since I have just started Part 2. But how often does one wish one could just stay home and read a book one has been so lucky to find? I would take it in to work to read on my break, except that I work in a prison, where even reading the Bible or the latest" Southern Living" is forbidden-

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