Friday, January 12, 2007

The Good Earth

Well, I've wound up with a new book despite myself. When I dropped in to return Kavalier and Clay today, Bonnie (yes, I am on a first name basis with the librarians!) told me that the book club will be reading The Good Earth for their next meeting, on February 7th. So I've got that one now, in addition to all of my others.

I was going to start The Partly Cloudy Patriot last night, in the hopes that it would be a quick read and I could return it this weekend, when I head home. But I was feeling more than "partly cloudy" myself last night. My shitty job, my shitty town, and the fact that if I want to see someone who cares about me I have to drive for two hours, just got to me. I wanted something as miserable as I felt, and that book sounded too damn cheerful for me. So I turned to the New Yorker's winter fiction issue.

Is it me, or is short fiction frequently depressing as hell? I still remember one from over a year ago, called "Early Music" by Jeffery Eugenides. It was about a man who had (along with his wife) dropped out of a PhD program in musicology. Now, he was a records clerk at an HMO, and his wife was trying to get a small business off the ground, making and selling scented fabric mice that you could put in the microwave to release their scent ("Mice N Warm"). They had twin girls and lived in an apartment without much money, but the guy had this clavichord. The down payment on it was a birthday gift, but he still owed on it and at the end of the story, they repossesed his clavichord. I still get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I unfortunately read that right before an orchestra rehearsal last fall. During rests, or when our conductor was talking to us, I kept looking down at my viola and being thankful that my parents had bought it for me outright when I was 15, that whatever happens, no one can actually take it from me (well, except a robber, but you know what I mean).

Last night's story was by Louise Erdich, called "Demolition." It was about a boy who falls in love with a much-older woman and stays in town, tending the cemetery, to be near her, even though she marries someone else. He stays there for years and years, never quite giving up (and carrying on an affair with her the whole time). Like anything by her, it was very good and very moving. It matched my mood perfectly last night.

The weird thing is, when I fell asleep, I had such a great dream that when I woke up, my bad mood from last night was gone. Always nice when that happens, especially since it's not like things got substantially better between bedtime and my alarm going off.

No comments: