Monday 30 January 2023
Thursday 26 January 2023
Monday 23 January 2023
Tuesday 3 January 2023
"Right after Lucy's death I thought of walking away permanently. Not because I didn't love my children, but other than Molly, they were old enough to be motherless, and Molly had a good father. Gilbert picked no favourite among his children. Everyone had his whole heart. I'm not like that. Love is like a savings account. You make a deposit, and use it here and there, sometimes subtracting an amount when you least expect it. You can say there is interest but that's not much to speak of. The account was more or less in the balance until Lucy died. When Lucy died everything was drained from it. Then nothing was left." (p.136)
'Dinosaurs - a novel' by Lydia Millet on the other hand, I read in one sitting on New Years Day. Sometimes you just need a book that reaffirms the decentness of human beings, and I needed this book. In it, Gil (it wasn't till the end when he is referred to as Gilbert that I realised consecutive books had the same character name) walks across America to get away from heartbreak and makes a new life for himself. He is independently wealthy (something that emerges as an issue in a variety of ways) but applies himself to contributing to society in whatever way he can, finding in his new home a local women's shelter, but it is the relationships he develops with his neighbours, Ardis, Ted, Clem and Tom, that shape the story. He befriends the lonely son Tom, just hanging out with him and eventually taking on ferrying him back and forth to activities. It's just nice, nobody has an agenda, he socialises with the family, adults and kids alike, and becomes part of it, but always without seeming to intrude. Then there are the birds that he becomes attached to, and that he finds shot in the dry riverbed behind his house, a crime that he is determined to get to the bottom of. Old friends from his previous life ask for help, and an encounter with his former love allows him some closure. New friends and acquaintances gradually attach themselves to his life until things come to a bit of a head, but not in a bad way. I have no idea why it's called Dinosaurs. Here, Gil and his money:
"Gil told her how once, when he was straight out of college, he'd decided to give up his grandparent's ill-gotten wealth. And fend for himself.
For several weeks after he had made this decision, he's felt euphoric. So excited he could barely contain it. As though he was standing on the edge of a great abyss, not dark but filled with light. Towering cliffs and a sparking river.
Like the Grand Canyon, maybe. Although he'd never seen it.
A realm of possibility - his life no longer set. His life could be anything.
Everywhere he went, everything he did during those few weeks was coloured vibrantly. He listened to inspiring music, full of extra energy every morning when he woke up. He broke into a run on sidewalks, only realising as he slowed down that he was grinning crazily.
He'd told Hadley of his revelation at a rare in-person meeting.
Saying it, though, he found he couldn't do it justice.
Couldn't explain to Haldey, in his oak-and-leather office with its fine appointments and wide views of the Manhattan skyline, how heavy the money was. A coat of shame he always had to wear.
Or how the thought of not having it anymore was like discovering how to fly.
Most people, Hadley said, felt just the opposite. For the reality was, it was money that set you free. Not the lack of it. Gil couldn't know this yet because he'd always had money. But the second he didn't, he would see." (p.142)
Stay safe. Be kind. Look into the abyss.