I love the summer.
Summer is the relief we feel when we shed thick coats and boots. We sit outside, walk, bicycle, go camping (ugh), rent a cabin (better), or stay in a lovely hotel (best).
Winter is cabin fever and going to the mall. We disembark from the bus with the other puffy-parka-clad stragglers, and begin to sweat. We drink a gigantic coffee and try on sweaters and wonder if anyone still eats Maid-rites and end up buying blankets and Yaktrax.
Summer is the end of mall rat season. Instead of being a mall rat, we do what little shopping we do via catalogues or online.
I have always loved mail-order catalogues, which have historically been a lifesaver on the prairie. The first Sears catalogue was published in 1888. Catalogues provided a wider selection of goods than general stores for farmers and others in remote locations.
We loved the Sears catalogue at our house. We circled everything we wanted for Christmas. My mother was an ardent shopper in department stores, but she also ordered clothes from Sears and Montgomery Ward. It was very exciting. Would that plaid jumper fit? And how about those rather odd ’60s psychedelic pink and lime-green mini-dresses my mother ordered for me?
Ruined by Classics and Unable to Read Award Winners & Nominees.
I am ruined by classics.
Here is what has happened.
I do not know if Chekhov was nominated for any prizes, but guess which writer is better?
Semple’s novel is both enjoyable and dismaying. Bee, the teenage narrator, arranges a mix of emails, reports. and letters in chronological order to figure out why and where her mother Bernadette disappeared. I like Bernadette’s voice best. Her emails, reminded me slightly of E. M. Delafield’s The Diary of a Provincial Lady. But there is a little too much here of the crazy neighbor’s emails. And it essentially reminds me of a Y.A. book.
Now I realize that politics are involved in these prizes, though as I have said elsewhere, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. I intend to avoid all articles this year that are likely to spoil the charm of the literary awards.
Oddly enough, reading Semple’s novel (not many pages to go) has made it impossible for me to go on to Ali Smith’s How to Be Both .
Smith’s How to Be Both won the Baileys Women’s Prize this year. It is divided into two stories, one set in the present and the other in the Renaissance. Half of the books have been printed with the present narrative first, and the other half with the Renaissance narrative first. In my e-book, you are simply given a choice.
I chose the part set in the present, because it looked easier.
Smith’s writing is elegant, but oddly I am finding echoes of Maria Semple’s books. In both books, a teenage narrator has lost her mother.
So I am simply going to have to start over with Smith’s book later. I just can’t read it right now.
Perhaps it is a classic, but I cannot judge at this point.
I am put off by the opening of the Renaissance section, which seems to be a poem containing such extravagant phrases as “Fathemotherplease spread/extempore”…
I’ve read so many classics that I need to go to literary rehab so I can appreciate this.
Or perhaps Semple’s book really IS better. I’ve read 275 pages, but am not finished yet.