Mondays on the Margins: Sadness and the People You Love

I've abandoned Scintilla for the moment. I will finish when I can, and I'm loving reading other peoples' posts, but right now it's just choking me with performance anxiety and making me feel like maybe I'm just not an interesting enough person to HAVE this many bloggable stories about my life.

I'm still in a low-grade reading rut. To Bunnyslippers: I have started reading Good Omens and I am looking upon it and finding it good. To whoever asked me what I thought about The Fault in our Stars (Jenny?): it's on my bedside pile.

I read another Dexter novel yesterday, thinking something light would be good. If you haven't watched or read Dexter, or if you've only watched it and you're thinking that calling it light is cracked in the head, the books actually are pretty light. Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel like they're light (and delicious) in a junk food kind of way. I start out reading each one and it's pleasing to the palate - there are some nice turns of phrase in the first few pages of this one about how he feels about his new daughter, Lily Anne - but by the end his sister punching him in the arm and his Dark Passenger jerking him around and whoever the current murderer is almost killing him and/or half of his family and friends (and failing) just feels sort of flaky, icing-sugary and teeth-aching. And of all the characters, Rita (Dexter's wife) in the book pisses me off when compared against Rita in the HBO series most of all. On television, she busts his balls and gives him a reason to at least fake being a decent human being. In the book she doesn't get to finish a sentence, which of course explains how he can fool her so easily, and of course the author has no particular obligation to me in this regard, but regardless, it makes me cranky.

In the past week, I also read: a book about a gunman in a school that was mildly diverting but ultimately a little too 'women's fiction'; and a mystery with tangled family elements that was really quite good. I finally read the last story in Peter S. Beagle's Sleight of Hand and that, naturally, was breathtakingly wonderful. I keep feeling like I don't really have the focus or presence of mind or strength to start something really demanding or robust, and yet much of what I'm reading seems unsatisfying so I probably should just force myself, and yes I realize it's kind of dumb to be talking about reading this way.

We had a dinner party here with four other couples on Saturday night. Matt was away three weeks ago in Asia, then home for March Break, then away in California until Friday night, and Saturday morning we were both exhausted and demoralized and thinking it was pure stupidity that we had agreed to host a dinner party in seven hours. Then of course the party was perfect and fabulous and everybody served meticulously-prepared delicious food and we laughed until our cheeks hurt and felt so grateful that we have these fantastic, generous, hilarious, twisted, fascinating people in our lives. And Sunday I was sad, like I always am after intense experiences, and it made me think of this book.

You know when you find books that look pulpy, that you expect to be quick, time-filling, throwaway reads? And you know how most of them are exactly what they first appear to be, and then every now and then one is immeasurably more? When I lived in Toronto and didn't have money to buy new books and the library was too far to get to conveniently, I would haunt the used bookstores in my neighbourhood, sweeping up shelves of insomnia-killers and then returning them for credit on the next wave. I read Brothers first. I didn't know anything about William Goldman. I didn't know that he wrote The Princess Bride (which is also The Princess Bride), that he was kind of a big deal in Hollywood, or that the prequel to Brothers was Marathon Man which was made into a movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. After I read Brothers, though, I bought everything by Goldman that I could find, because even if he had only been a paperback writer, he had clearly figured some stuff out, he had shit going on. The love stories between the characters in the merest of subplots in his books were more compelling than some love stories that took up entire novels. He was funny in that deep, true way that was always kind, never mean. He understood loss and jealousy and yearning.

So Control was the third of fourth Goldman book I read. I mean, look at the cover:

Impossibly cheesy. But such a great story, and, like one of the Amazon reviewers said, you have love affairs with the wonderful characters and when something horrible happens to them you are utterly destroyed. And one of the characters, who was that wonderful, and who I identified with as a stay-at-home-mother long before I was one, and who did absolutely destroy me when the horrible thing happened to her, was named Edith Mazursky. She is wry and self-deprecating and one of her convictions about life is that it is chiefly made up of "sadness, and the people you love". At least I think that's how it was - I can't find my copy and I can't find confirmation of it on the internet and I'm a little worried that I'm fabulating here, so take it for what it is. It's always something that's resonated hugely with me. The people you love are something in your life other than sadness - joy, when it's at its least complicated, or pleasure. Or they're part of the sadness - they cause you sadness, or you share in their sadness, or you lose them, which causes sadness. But even if the people you love are all in the not-sadness column, there's everything else in the world which, in the balance, is sadness. Saturday night I was with my friends, and we shared food and laughter, and my children were with their friends or my parents, and I knew they were well-cared for, and I was without care in the truest sense. Sunday I was not with my friends, and the weight of the rest of the world got in. And when Eve ran in and bellowed "my hug tank is empty!" and hug-mugged me and ran out again leaving me half-wondering what the hell had just happened, or when Angus asked me to tuck him in even though he's twelve and taller than me, and said "I love you" back, I was happy, because they're the people I love. But still, the sadness. You know?


Nicole said…
I know. I know, sweetie. xoxo
S said…
Wanna know something cool? They filmed Marathon Man on my street in NYC. I forget when it was - I was maybe 6 and my brother 8? -- but the crew allowed my brother and me to be extras in a crowd scene after a car explosion. So, yeah. You can't see us cuz we're SHORT, but I like knowing I'm there, anyway.
Mary Lynn said…
Wish I could wish away the sadness.

But, oh -- "My hug tank is empty." Awesomeness. Pure awesomeness,

William Goldman also wrote an interesting book about screenplay writing called Which Lie Did I Tell? which I remember quite enjoying. He wrote the screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, too, I think. Love the novel The Princess Bride. As much as I adore the movie, the book brings even more to the story.

Hope you enjoy Good Omens. Say hello to Sister Mary Loquacious from me.
Hannah said…
Good Omens! Love that book, it's one of my favourites. Funny AND smart is always a win.

Why haven't I read more William Goldman? That's... really weird. I read The Princess Bride when I was nine and am on my third copy now, I think? I don't know why I've never gone looking for his other work. Good tip! I'm in a library funk right now but that sounds like just the thing.
Lynn said…
I know about the sadness, but today it was finally, finally, almost like spring in the air, and the kids were just batty with sunshine, everyone running around with coats open (while I was still bundled up like an Eskimo), and try as I would to be grouchy, a little happiness did seep in. The people I love, I guess.

I need to read more Goldman. I adore all his movies, but I think the only book of his I've read is The Princess Bride (also awesome, every great line from that movie is directly from the book). I will put Control on my wish list.

(It's not too too devastating, is it? If so, I may need a visit from Eve and her hug tank.)
Bunnyslippers said…
I'm happy you like it!

I feel for your sadness. Baby #2 has left me with two solid days of sit-on-the-floor-and-weep-style hormonal woe and despair each month. It'll be great for me proffessionally. Bah. I hope yours wanes sooner than later.

You have some crazy-ass spam commenters, by the way. :)
Sasha said…
Yeah, I finally unsubscribed from the Scintilla emails - they just made me feel guilty whenever I read them :P. And if they're making you feel uninteresting then in GODS NAME STOP - 'cuz you're not :).

Yay for Good Omens! I have what could be a blog post, currently scribbled into my bedside notebook, that makes references to Douglas Adams on crack. I think. I can't remember entirely - must be the drugs. Looking forward to hearing what you think! I forget, you've read some of the Disc World stuff, haven't you? And I know you've read Neil Gaiman's short stories. I'm looking forward to reading them each on their own. Neil Gaiman, I gather, is big in - crap, what's the word? You know, really long comic books? Graphic novels - right. I hope I didn't offend anyone there. Anyhow, I've never read one, and can't say I've ever been interested (being high-brow and literary and all that jazz). It makes me think I should open my mind and try it.
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