My Kindle reader is broken, so I've been looking through my books and re-reading a few things.
One of my favorite authors is Angus Wilson. The collection of short stories, The Wrong Set, is a great read. Wilson may not seem very sympathetic toward his self-deluded characters as they struggle in the arms of fate, but right now that is a big theme of mine!
Wilson writes about moldy insufferable aristocrats who cherish their safe eccentricities, "serious" warmongers and pacifists, secret drunks and druggies, smug young couples, bloated South African colonials, gloating bastards who sneer and sabotage, inarticulate banal women consumed with love and sorrow, and so many others, all recognizable types that he sets into play. What a varied cast of characters! Events are not as important as the "kickers," the moments that reveal the traumatic event, the hidden shame, the viciousness, the moments of humiliation that rule these lives. The wrong set, indeed. Above all, he is funny! The humor resembles The Office or Alan Partridge, just the thing to cheer me up in my condition! I guess I'm a nasty woman sometimes!
In one story, Significant Experience, a couple converse about Henry James and his attraction to the notion of virtue:"Oh! I know he makes innocence the ultimate virtue, and destroying it the ultimate sin. But how he does love watching the sinners at work!" That is the essence of James in two sentences! And of Wilson, too, I think. Wilson's are the "innocent sinners," oblivious to the damage they do.
For light diversion, I'm looking at some Wilhelm Busch cartoons, silly tales poking fun at provincials. Easy targets! He's best known for his naughty boys, Max and Moritz, who were the inspiration for the Katzenjammer Kids, an American cartoon strip.
Max and Moritz get into all kinds of trouble and eventually are ground up in a flour mill and eaten by the geese! Now the village they have been terrorizing can get back to normal!
And I just finished re-reading a collection of essays by Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, which were written in the 60s and 70s but seem very fresh. The introduction, written in 1989, is prescient. By then MacCannell had become aware of the women's movement. It is remarkable the way books like The Tourist could be written then almost as if women did not exist except as diversions from serious matters, their work disregarded, their behavior described in anecdotes and stereotypes. Also, he did not envision the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Third World populism, the collapse of venerable American institutions. He gets pretty technical in places about language, signs, symbols, etc. but I love that stuff. I'm kind of a linguistics nerd, I guess.
So I'm running out of steam here. Tomorrow I get another infusion. We have had a rough few days, because Terry got the flu and then a mysterious rash, and we kind of had to hunker down and be unwell together. But he's back in commission now. I'm pretty happy today, under the circumstances!