Boo Reads

Have you ever read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House? I haven’t read anything else of hers besides “The Lottery,” but am now quite charmed, and spooked, by her book. It’s a short treat, and great for the week before Halloween, if time allows, and your brain needs a rest. I am about halfway through, and so far, so spooky.



Dearest Millicent,

I have some obvious revelations to share.  The first is Doris Lessings’ The Golden Notebook.  I’m in the middle of it, and with that, a big crush on the book itself.  I’ve read other of Lessing’s works, but this one is a new delight to me.  It feels to cliche’ to like it in the way that I do.  It does present women’s relationships in a way that I don’t think I have seen before. If I have, it has been rare.  Her characters are wonderfully cranky and judgmental, and constantly examining their crankiness and judgments.  Plus, the writing is exact and pretty.  Like Munroe, but with a different edge.  I read this paragraph, and thought of you:

“With strawberries, wine, obviously,” Anna said greedily; and moved the spoon about among the fruit, feeling its soft sliding resistance and the slipperiness of the cream under a gritty crust of sugar. Molly swiftly filled glasses with wine and set them on the white sill. The sunlight crystallised beside each glass on the white paint in quivering lozenges of crimson and yellow light, and the two women sat in the sunlight, sighing with pleasure and stretching their legs in the thin warmth, looking at the colours of the fruit in the bright bowls and at the red wine.

Second obvious revelation: That pang of “is there more?” that happens in relationships, it must be a luxury of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Once a certain round of qualifications are met, a new sphere seems possible to ask for.  I think of this regarding the mutual friend who would like to have a boyfriend she actually likes.  I think of this regarding my own panics, outraged that I am yet to be actualized (and seeing that first I must conquer that great beast of esteem).  This actually calms me a little, writing it, because it suggests the issue is some of my own.  Is the great “work” of marriage that everybody is always talking about really the climb of this ladder–actually a case of chutes and ladders?

Third obvious revelation: When I am out in the world with my husband, I think I experience less of it, and it is my own fault.  I was grocery shopping solo yesterday, and I had a very strong sense of my public self.  Usually, when I am with him, I have no concern for the public self–if we are grocery shopping, I am unaware of how I look, or that I am a person part of the milieu.  I almost go on autopilot, and I think this is because I assume he will make most of the decisions (and because I like him making most of the decisions (these are the tiny myriad of decisions that take place every day: things like driving, which store to go to, which card to put it on, which cereal, which parking spot)).  When I am alone, suddenly I have to make these thousand choices myself, and I feel my own weight again.  I’m not sure which I prefer, or if I even feel guilty writing this.  However, it has been observed.

Hope you are well,