5/10/08

Mom's the Word


I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale right now. The best gauge I have for books that truly captivate me is that I get annoyed when real life and circumstances impose themselves upon my reading time. I hate having to put these rare books down to eat, sleep and honour appointments and schedule commitments. The Thirteenth Tale is such a book.

I love 'word nerd' authors. It becomes immediately obvious that Diane Setterfield is one. I suspect it's her study of French literature that has honed her sense of the particular in sentence structure. She selects only the most fitting words and phrases to describe her characters and scenes, or so it seems. And then there is the placing and slant synonymic of her word choice. Whereas some authors might stick their pronouns in conventional places, she seems to mix them up and thus, toy with both the semantics and the reader, thereby conveying "a certain ambiguity in the expression." She does this on page 141, with Charlie Angelfield's epitaph, which reads:

CHARLIE ANGELFIELD
HE IS GONE INTO THE DARK NIGHT.
WE SHALL NEVER SEE HIM MORE.


Yes, it's a good book, a very fine book. I am now at the Middles section of the book, which follows, most naturally, after Beginnings, of course. Her chapter on The Friendly Giant was splendid. Like all Canadian children of a certain age and form, I came of age with The Friendly Giant. And so it is that I relate in part and mythic imagination.

Here is a slice from the chapter.
"Tell me..." the stranger began, and I suspected he had needed to pluck up the courage to ask his question. "Do you have a mother?"
I felt a start of surprise. People hardly ever notice me for long enough to ask me personal questions.
"Do you mind? Forgive me for asking, but--How can I put it? Families are a matter of...of...But if you'd rather not--I am sorry."
"It's all right," I said slowly. "I don't mind." And actually I didn't. Perhaps it was the series of shocks I'd had, or else the influence of this queer setting, but it seemed that anything I might say about myself here, to this man, would remain forever in this place, with him, and have no currency anywhere else in the world. Whatever I said to him would have no consequences. So I answered his question. "Yes, I do have a mother."
"A mother! How--Oh, how--" A curiously intense expressed came into his eyes, a sadness or a longing. "What could be pleasanter than to have a mother!" he finally exclaimed. It was clearly an invitation to say more.
"You don't have a mother, then?" I asked.
Aurelius's face twisted momentarily. "Sadly--I have always wanted--Or a father, come to that. Even brothers or sisters. Anyone who actually belonged to me. As a child I used to pretend. I made up an entire family. Generations of it! You'd have laughed!" There was nothing to laugh at in his face as he spoke. "But as to an actual mother...a factual, known mother...Of course everybody has a mother, don't they? I know that. It's a question of knowing who that mother is. And I have always hoped that one day--For it's not out of the question, is it? And so I have never given up hope."
"Ah."
"It's a very sorry thing." He gave a shrug that he wanted to be casual, but wasn't. "I should have liked to have a mother."
"Mr. Love--"
"Aurelius, please."
"Aurelius. You know, with mothers, things aren't always as pleasant as you might suppose."
"Ah?" It seemed to have the force of a great revelation to him. He peered closely at me, "Squabbles?"
"Not exactly."
He frowned. "Misunderstandings?"
I shook my head.
"Worse?" He was stupefied. He sought what the problem might be in the sky, in the woods, and finally, in my eyes.
"Secrets," I told him.

On a lighter maternal note, I found the fatherly sequel to the Mom Song made legendary in Youtubeland....check it out. She's captured dadsense in minutia, I think.

And Happy Mother's Day weekend to all mothers great and small out there. May you bear no secrets.

8 comments:

itsjustmeagain said...

Happy Mother's Day to you Holy!!

This book sounds great...!! I've been looking for something new to read and I'm really undecided... Will have to take this one underconsideration...

Have a fabulous day hon!

KC

The Beast Mom said...

heh-heh. Ask Mom.

Just wanted to wish you a happy Mother's Day. :)

-bm

Jorge said...

Doggone it, Holy, now you just forced me to add yet another book to my stack of unread literature :-) Be well,
J.

Lynn said...

Because I don't have enough to read already, I have to come visit you to find out what to add to my stack. Thanks for the always-right-on recommendation!

And thank you for that wonderful Mom's Day comment you left me, Holy...it made my day, and let me tell you...it took a lot that day to make me smile. You did it, again.

Much love!

Jungle Mama said...

Oh my! Secrets . . . intriguing. It seems like a book I could easily loose myself into as well. Sorry old friend for having been away so long. I think now that the kids are finally back in school and the man is finally walking again and back into work I might, just might, be able to find that lost routine again. Hope you had a lovely Mother's Day. I can imagine you staying in bed reading your book while your sweet little cherubs are downstairs fixing you up a splendid Mother's Day breakfast in bed :D Hope it went something like this anyway.

Lynn said...

About your comments: =)

No, I had no idea the girls had plotted this and YES what an amazing, wonderful gift. They know me too well, that gang: Mom wants books, candles and lots of photos of her family. They even made sets for all the grandparents!

And me and candy bars and diet*cokes:
Heh. I'm a Southern gal. I can charm the suspenders off a fireman when I want to; I was the top seller in every little mini-mart I worked in-and you're dang straight, I up-sold the HELL out of our merchandise. Lighter with your cigs, Hon? Your car's lookin' a little muddy, honey...car washes are only a dollar extra if you fill up...
Alas, Kentucky doesn't allow Hustler's sold in little corner stores. If they had, I'd have had KY jelly and loads of kleenex boxes at the register with me.

Love ya!

Jorge said...

We are cooking in the Southland this weekend, and from what I see, you're not much better off. Be well,
J.

Lynn said...

What? You STILL reading that book, woman?