My sister visited us for 11 days. She came and left. She is now in Buenos Aires, and also traveling to breathtaking sites like Iguazú Falls, and the Glaciar, Perito Moreno.
The day before she flew, I managed to ask her for Muriel Barbery’s last book, La vida de los elfos. Since she writes in French, and they say she is one of those poetic language crafters without a clear cut plot in this book, I decided to read her in Spanish. In my head, there’s a category of books that I adore, not because of what they tell, it’s the magnetism of how they tell it.
I prefer the cover they chose for the book in English, The Life of Elves. What about you?
Every year is a different and fascinating chapter in my life as a reader. Get it? Seriously. I believe this half year has been consistently great. I’ve read a few mediocre books, but they’ve been fun to comment at book club. I’ve read several gems, books that climbed right up into favorites (The Makioka Sisters, Catch 22, To Kill a Mockingbird, El amigo Manso, The Nine Tailors, Dandelion Wine).
I finished The Nine Tailors today. What a fascinating title. This was my original mystery for the Back to Classics challenge. I have read two other titles by Sayers, Whose Body?, and Strong Poison. Those two titles had elements not present in The Nine Tailors. For example, in Whose Body, there’s much more banter between Bunter, Lord Peter’s butler, and Lord Peter. Lord Peter Wimsey is a noble who also solves crimes. In Strong Poison, Lord Peter meets Harriet, who will join him in other books, or cases. But The Nine Tailors (see the bell on the cover?, they are the nine bell strokes that mean the passing of a men), can be considered a stand alone novel, I believe. There’s not a lot of interaction between Bunter and Lord Peter. Harriet isn’t there. And the place, the fen country of East Anglia, becomes a character in the novel, with its inhabitants, the belfry, the sluice ( a sliding gate or other device for controlling the flow of water, especially one in a lock gate).
Whose Body? and Strong Poison, I read quite fast. Since the first pages, there’s a strong urge to know what happened, who the murderer is, and why he or she did it. But The Nine Tailors is a 397 pages (per my edition) novel in a broader sense, more than just a mystery. I read it at a modicum pace, I’d say. I read a bit almost every day. Some days a bit more. By the last 150 pages, I accelerated the pace a bit. I felt unhurried, savoring the town and people, enjoying the history and the mystery. There’s something so satisfying about Dorothy Sayers. Cindy Rollins, in Mere Motherhood, says it was that sense of order, how the mysteries are solved, that was like a drug in her life so full of chaos.
What made a deep impression in my heart from reading The Mind of the Maker, by Sayers too, was that she tells us that our lives are not like a mystery novel, where things happen according to the author’s design, in order. In a mystery novel, there are problems and solutions, and the circle closes neatly with the solving of the mystery at the end. This fits with many important themes, for example, many look at life like a mystery novel, as a set of problems with solutions. They are in constant pursue of whatever is going to ‘fix’ their life (a new curriculum, a miraculous diet, an exercising program, a move to the perfect place, home, a new job, 7 steps to improve your marriage, 5 steps to a clean home, 3 easy steps to obedient children). All this we call utilitarianism sometimes, stands opposed to what we call poetic life. Our lives are more complex (and much more beautiful), than novels, but that hugeness, that other ‘mystery’, can be painful, chaotic, tornado like. It can frustrate us to see how little control we have. That’s when God comes into the picture for us, Christ like aspirants.
We all live hard lives. The older we get, the higher the chances to go through hardships, illnesses, disappointments, you name it. Are we then going to spend our life, as a friend said, in a competition to see who has it worse? I’ve done that myself, I still fall into that trap at times. It’s not worth it. It’s even sinful, and I’m not moralizing or preaching. We owe it to Him to be positive, joyful, -even in hardships-.
I have many more ideas sizzling in my brain, literally (we have some days of whooping 103 Fahrenheit degrees here in the Houston subs). I’m also two pictures behind. One it’s The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. It’s part of Kim and I’s first duo featuring this book and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve started it and, as usual, C.S. Lewis never disappoints.
The last picture is a night shot of a new tea flavor I bought today. It’s very southern, don’t you think? I’m a watermelon fan, and I pride in picking the best ones. I heard they must have well defined and plenty stripes, and a yellow spot means they’ve been ripening on the ground.
I’m now relegated to non caffeine drinks. Why? I don’t read this a lot in blogs or hear it in conversations. It’s nothing glamorous, and maybe it doesn’t go with my idea of being positive and such. But at 45 years old, night sweats are a reality. And I’ve noticed that caffeine aggravates it (or maybe it’s in my head, but I’m willing to give that a try). I promise I won’t fall head long into the utilitarian trap, and I won’t believe it’s entirely in my hands to go through peri-menopause and menopause as fresh as a rose (or a lettuce, as we say in Spanish), with grace and total impunity. I assure you that I’ll pray, and do all I can without asking God for an immediate fix. I won’t complain, but I’m here, in case anyone wants to commiserate with me, or me with them.