#6Degrees: Sanditon

Inspired by this meme.

Sanditon, set at an eponymous beach resort, was Jane Austen’s final unfinished manuscript.

Henry James’ final unfinished novel The Ivory Tower (abandoned in 1914 at the outbreak of war) also opens at a seaside resort, Newport, Rhode Island and concerns the moral hazard of big new American money.

Working class people also inhabit beach resort towns, as in Alice McDermott’s Child Of My Heart, in which a girl’s coming of age includes babysitting for a family in a nearby seaside mansion.

Babysitting gone horribly wrong is the theme of another, maybe my second favorite (after The Awkward Age) novel of Henry James, What Maisie Knew, in which a small girl is the subject of a custody battle that is really a battle over not ever taking custody.

In Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a woman who has lost her children winds up with custody of her husband’s child by another woman, and in her visit to her Paris to conceive more of her own, gains not a pregnancy but a grand friendship with her husband’s new mistress, and a role to play in a revolution.

A woman up and flees her children, traveling from Russia to England, in The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald, where an English family struggles to carry on as a revolution brews in Moscow … do the children reunite with their mother?  Read it to find out.


New nails

Just back from the nail shop, getting my tips re-done. I got tips (extensions) for the first time 3 weeks ago, with SNS powder, and was deeply satisfied with the result and its longevity. My hands are pudgy and chillblained and wrinkled but having fancy nails makes me happy. After all, I look at my nails a lot.

What else has been generating pleasure:

“Transcription” which is Kate Atkinson’s latest novel, about a woman who works for the MI5 during WWII.  The Tara French Dublin Murder Squad series.

Riverdale on TV.

Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Archie from Riverdale.

Nounos yogurt, a local brand I’m obsessed with since I first tried their coconut mango flavor a couple years back. That is can be hard to find adds to its glamour — the other day I scored an unexpected hat trick when, going to the rather obscure grocery store that is the only one that sells the frozen breakfast sandwiches I like, they also had Nounos AND the big bottles of Starbucks medium roast ice coffee, which isn’t at Gristedes or Whole Foods or,obviously, Trader Joe’s, so I have to go Fairway just for that. And none of those carry the breakfast sandwiches which I suspect are far too downscale for the nabe, and I know I oughtn’t to be eating them either, but fuck it, I like them. All my various preferences means that I visit about 5 different grocery stores over any 2 week period to stock up on this thing from that and then that other thing that only the other one carries. It gets a bit crazy. And somehow I never really have anything in the house I want to eat.

Recently, I quite Facebook and Instagram though I’m doubtful anyone will notice. I don’t miss, but I do miss a sort of platonic idea of it that it never really was anyhow.

I’m to going to write anything now about Individual One, or any current events, just what I do to keep the too-muchness of our times at some bay.

In a Lonely Book Place

As recommended by my podcast-soulmate Backlisted, I’m reading Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer, which is a story collection and, at long last, In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes, the 1940s noir novel on which the film with Bogart and Grahame was based.  The film is one of the handful that I can’t not watch whenever I see it’s coming on TCM.  Reading the book afterwards is quite a lesson in how novels, when adapted for movies, can be changed, plot-wise, in big ways, often for the (cinematic at least) better. The simple switch — though so not simple! — from making the protagonist in the book, whom we know is a serial killer from the outset, into a man with anger issues who could be the killer, but we’re pretty sure isn’t, takes it to a higher orbit.



Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart in In A Lonely Place

I’m also in the midst of Lauren Groff’s latest book, “Florida”, another story collection.  Post writers conference, my interest in the short is resurging.

13bennett-cover-jumboOn audio I’ve got 1922: The Year That Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein, which is about how, in that year, four great writers made their great leaps forward: Woolf, Lawrence, Eliot, and Forster.  It’s sending me to read some Lawrence, which I haven’t seen college.

You may well wonder how I get all this reading done — but in fact I usually feel I’m not getting enough reading done, as, come dusk, I turn to TV binge-watch mode.


“My” show of the moment, Claws, has been putting out a 2nd season even better than its stellar first.  It hits my Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sleazy southern noir buttons, it’s hilarious and continually inventive, and also akin to Buffy, the characters are real people with backstories that are “surprising and inevitable,” as Flannery O’Connor says the ending of a short story must be.


In a similar vein, I saw the movie The Spy Who Dumped Me” this week, with expectations pretty low: killing an afternoon somewhere cool, seated comfortably, so as to avoid running into my cleaner. I’d read somewhere that the action sequences in it exceeded those of the latest Mission Impossible, and I like action — I also like movies that Tom Cruise is nowhere near.  My expectations were large exceeded — this was a funny BFF comedy with Mila Kunis and Katherine McKinnon getting mixed up in a dangerous international caper.  The plot was superfluous, the pleasure was in seeing a story about a pair of best friends who use their best-friendship to conquer all before them.  Recommended, though maybe not for the $17.50 I had to pay when I wandered like a shorn lamb into the theater at 2 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon.  (I go to very few movies — the last one I saw was The Death of Stalin last winter.)