Saturday, September 22, 2018

books and refrigerator

I checked three literary books out of the university library yesterday.

1. Three Plays by Noel Coward. I wanted to track down the Coward quote, "Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs," that Brett Kavanaugh's friend Mike Judge had included in his high-school yearbook page. Out of context it sounds incredibly crass, so what was the context? I'd found online that it was not in Coward's own persona, but spoken by a character in his play Private Lives, but the full text wasn't available to me online. So to the library. Private Lives is a comedy about a divorced couple who re-meet accidentally, fall back in love, and then resume having the fierce arguments that caused their divorce in the first place. The line (about a third of the way through Act 3) is one spoken by the man in the course of one of those arguments consisting of insults and belittlement. It seems to me that to quote it alone, with apparent approval, is to defy and deny the purpose for which Coward wrote it. You can do that, but it should be noted that that's what you're doing. What's the woman's response in the play? She says, "You're an unmitigated cad, and a bully." Say that, if anyone smugly quotes the original line at you.

2. Apples at Night, by H.A. Manhood. I'd come across a blog review of a new edition of this obscure 20C English author's stories, which intrigued me enough, when I saw that the library had a couple of his original collections, to check out one. I've read about half the book so far. They're slice of life stories, mostly set in rural England, with long descriptive passages, and plots based on ironic twists that I'm usually not sure I fully get the point of.

3. A Mirror for Observers, by Edgar Pangborn. Classic SF novel I'd never read. John Hertz had asked my opinion of it at Worldcon, so I intend to acquire an opinion. What John wanted my evaluation of was its descriptions of classical music. Browsing through I see that one character is a pianist specializing in Beethoven and Chopin. OK, I'll read this.

Meanwhile, like Christine Lavin's Mysterious Woman*, I've been concerned with defrosting my refrigerator. The freezer compartment isn't supposed to develop layers of ice on the bottom that steadily thicken until I chip them out and then start all over again, but it started doing that a while ago, and past attempts to defrost haven't stopped it. They (whoever They is) recommend 24 hours, but that wasn't long enough. So I tried 36 hours instead. That required arranging with both B. and myself a time when the freezer could be emptied, and there was little enough in the fridge that it could fit in our coolers along with the ice packs. The project finished up yesterday evening, and so far it seems to have worked.

*This is her parody of Suzanne Vega, and to my taste the funniest song she's ever written.

1 comment:

  1. You've never read "A Mirror for Observers"? I'll be very interested to see what you think of it. It's been one of my favorite books since I was 12 years old -- and before you ask, yes, I HAVE re-read it recently and loved it just as much.