I finished rereading The Saddest Summer of Samuel S. by J. P. Donleavy last night. I barely remember reading this book before. I did remember accurately the incident of the therapist telling Samuel. S. that he was cured because he (Samuel S.) was driving the therapist crazy.
However I remembered it taking place in Washing Square, NYC. Instead it takes place in Vienna where the entire novel takes place. Samuel S. is in the therapist’s office. I think I may have conflated two literary memories. It’s possible they were both from Donleavy novels.
After cleaning the kitchen and doing some Greek I again sat down and read poetry. I am finding Tyehimba Jess an extremely powerful poet. Due to reading the history of slavery I am finding new resonance in his work and the work of Amiri Baraka.
This morning I read his poem about Sissieretta Jones singing Aida at Carnegie Hall in 1902. I find it satisfying that he pulls the entire African American experience into the operatic moment. I like this line especially:
What is a coon show anyway, but one poor devil putting on a mask another devil willing to pay to see?
Did you know there were hundreds of “coon” songs written and performed at minstrel shows? Jess makes a entire chapter based mostly on just their titles. The chapter takes its title from one, “All Coons Look Alike to Me: A Chant of Merry Song Melodies Guaranteed! All Titles Historically Accurate! Guaranteed!
It is a painful read. It too me several days to get through that chapter.
The Real Story Behind Roald Dahl’s ‘Black Charlie’ – The New York Times
More info on this.
Marilynne Robinson on Finding the Right Word – The New York Times
I read Gilead by this author.
Solving the Puzzle of Eggplant Parmesan – The New York Times
Slice it thinly into a fan shape.