03 March 2009

Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show

Parties can take on a life of their own (just read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway), and this one certainly seems to be living up to that idea.

The invitation list appears to have exceeded 75, and evidently, just about everyone is planning to show up. Remember what I said about people seeking comfort? Yikes.

I am glad that the whole idea seems to please people, but right now I can't help but see it as one more obstacle to get past.

Right now, I'm rereading Mary Hood's Familiar Heat. One of my favorite books ever. My mother was working in a little library in north Georgia, and I can't remember how she came to hear that this author was signing her novel, but she made the effort to get me the book, and Ms. Hood kindly signed my copy, and what she signed is rather hilarious and takes up the better part of an entire page. It makes me wonder what my mother said about me.

The novel itself is a bit odd in its structure, and the story doesn't always hang together perfectly. But struggle is struggle and struggle is universal, along with love and death. Life and love are mysterious, the human heart is anything but tame. And the story is compelling enough (someone I gave a copy to said, "but it's so depressing...!" Well, life is depressing. Tragedies happen, people die, words are never spoken or heard. Whales beach themselves and innocents are harmed. But there is beauty for all that, there is humanity for all that, there is common purpose for all that. And I am in a place right now where I'm having great difficulty seeing any good amidst all the bad.)

What I enjoy most about this book, why I reread it, is the language and the character studies. I like the cadence of her voice, I like the choice of words, I like the structure of her sentences. I like authors who trust their readers to get it. And I like the characters. I like the richness of their lives, I like the integrity of their construction. I believe in them. This isn't a cast of characters, it is an ensemble, people from all walks of life, all backgrounds. Terrible things happen in this book, but the characters gather strength from one another, hilariously sometimes, poignantly at others, and there is the promise of sun after the storm.

The moral of this post? Be there. Be the port in the storm. Have a potluck, invite your friends. A couple of weeks ago, we just chatted with friends over a glass of wine for a couple of hours, and everyone relaxed and had fun. Everyone walked away refreshed.

Go listen to some good music: "Soolaimon/Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" from the album Hot August Night by Neil Diamond. I was given a copy of this album, along with a number of others, when I was very young, maybe the daughter's age, by my older cousin F. before he left on a deployment to Southeast Asia. The iTunes remaster doesn't quite live up to my memories of the original, but I can still belt this tune out at the top of my lungs. And did. And I got through the entire post without talking about how frustrated and unhappy I am right now. The problem with this stuff is that the longer I don't write, the easier it becomes not to write, so I end up with an awkward post like this. And I'm at a point where I can't fake the optimism, or talk myself into belief in it. This is at risk of running longer than the post. And I'm terribly tired.

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