Currently I’m reading stories by Raymond Carver (Where I’m Calling From) and poetry by Ted Hughes (Birthday Letters). Before that I was reading a novel by Jane Bowles called Two Serious Ladies.
I don’t know if you can call it a novel exactly, or maybe you can: the movement in general is outward.
Some months ago, N mentioned the book to me, saying it was very good. A week or so ago, I stopped by where he works to chat (I do that now; so much free time, I think I’m living someone else’s life) and as I was leaving he handed the book to me.
Now, this is the sort of thing that happens when I’m on a strict reading regimen, of which everyone seems to know (a strict reading regiment is my version of having a lifelong medical condition or trying out different diets). I totally caved. This is why I never managed to be Catholic or stop drinking coffee. Zero will power.
The great thing, though, was that I loved the book. It’s been a long time since I read something in three days flat. The past couple of years I’ve slowed down my reading pace. Most books suffer from being read intermittently along with several other books; rare gems are read slowly and solemnly like bibles.
Two Serious Ladies tells of Christina Goering, an eccentric sort of single woman, and Frieda Copperfield, who is equally strange and married. I have to be cautious about saying “eccentric” and “strange” because I don’t want to diminish them in any way. Yet they both seem to be on the edge of insanity. They don’t do the expected thing. Christina seems obsessed with sainthood, and yet she ends up selling her suburban home to live in a much less comfortable house on an island with several different men. What’s curious and refreshing about the whole thing is that Christina is convinced that these affairs will take her towards sainthood. This is what she must do. And it makes you think of the different kinds of sainthood that are possible, that can be created.
The novel begins with Christina and Frieda meeting at a party. Christina then begins her adventures and Frieda leaves on a holiday to Panama with her husband. She spends most of her time in brothels, befriending prostitutes, bailing them out and so on. At the end of the novel, they meet again and are changed.
N had told me that Bowles’s prose is sparse; I expected it to be sparse and affected (natural pessimist that I am), but it’s just very bare. No fancy descriptions, no tricks, no verbosity. I like.
Question: what is the blogger etiquette when it comes to mentioning people you know? I’m never sure if it’s OK to mention names unless you’re citing or linking to someone. Is it rude? I’ve asked permission a couple of times, but usually I just use the person’s initial instead of saying “my friend” or “an acquaintance,” which is boring and confusing. I’m beginning to think letters of the alphabet are also confusing…