About halfway through, a different narrator takes over, and gives us a different perspective on Cassandra. To say more than that it’s about 2 sisters, one of whom is about to marry at the family ranch, and other other of whom would vastly prefer she not marry, is almost saying too much about the story. I recommend this book highly. It thrilled me in every line, and definitely is one that I’ll want to reread soon. (Perhaps my favorite kind of novel, ultimately, is a relatively short one that I can read twice and really sink into and grasp, than something longer but less unified and concentrated.)
Something that I liked in it very much, which comes at the very end, is an encounter Cassandra, back in Berkeley after her crisis which is the book’s crisis, has with a casual friend she runs into. The friend, a poor painter, tells her that she sold her guitar to afford paint, and she took 3 buses that morning in order to reach the SF side of the Golden Gate Bridge. “The only thing I think about these days is light and what it does to things. Light on water is something to consider.” Afterwards, drinking coffee alone, Cassandra “thought a little about economics and aesthetics, moving from the very simple to the slightly more complex, and wondering how it would feel to have to pawn a guitar, and how it would be to walk around until it gets dark and somebody gets out of your studio and you can go back in and go to work. The things that get in your way, the indignities you have to suffer before you’re free to do one simple, personal, necessary thing–like work. If it has to be a quarter inch thick you hock the guitar, and when the supply runs out, hock something else, and no matter what you have to part with to do it you hang on to the hope of painting a good picture some day. And in time, others. That’s painters. But for me it was pretty much the same thing. I could never write any of this until I could tear up the pawn ticket on the ghost of my mother. It’s a different order of hocking but it comes to the same thing.”
Someone commented on a recent post, talking about getting rid of physical books in favor of her large library of e-books. I was back and forth on e-books for years — wanting to like the form, wanting to embrace all the conveniences of them. My first big e-reading experience involved rereading War and Peace on a Kindle app. I also happily read books on my iPhone while traveling abroad — especially handy for eating alone in foreign dimly lit restaurants. But ultimately I find that for me some of the very reading value of a book is inherent in its physicality; I just don’t rate it as much if I’m reading on a device. It neither feels like mine, nor can I summon up any sense of accomplishment with an e-book. I haven’t bought one in a long time, and don’t get them from the library. I want either to be read to by a terrific performer (audiobooks have become huge for me), or read it myself off a paper page.
I’m listening now to Dr Zhivago, and also re listening to some of the opening of The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, which was as enthralling to me as anything by Dostoevsky. I’ve begun reading (not listening) to The Adolescent by Dostoevsky, and plan in the next days to finish some books that have lingering from 2017.
My one reading project, as mentioned before, is, let’s call it, MY SHELVES A-Z. I began with Renata Adler and Dorothy Baker, and must now choose a book by a ‘C” author. Criteria being, I own it, but haven’t read it yet. Possibilities include: Joyce Cary, and Ivy Compton-Burnett.