I had a good chat with Dr. Birky, my therapist yesterday. Then went to the library and Readers World. I picked up an interlibrary loan of The Topeka School by Ben Lerner. Lerner appeared recently on a New Yorker podcast and I was impressed with him. I was curious to see what his novel was like. I was only planning to read a little bit in for this purpose. It immediately sucked me in.
I know from listening to the podcast that both of Lerner’s parents are shrinks. The novel takes place in a psychiatric institute and hospital in Topeka and there are many shrinks in the cast of characters.
I was only able to get a large print copy. I’m on page 102 of 456 pages. He writes well and the plot is interesting. Cool.
At Readers World I picked up a couple of books that I ordered and purchased some more on sight. I decided to skip blogging to read.
I’m about half way into The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. Very funny. I’m having to look up lots of Jewish mystical stuff like Serifot and Kabbalah and Zohar. Smith has also tricked me into figuring out a bit of Hebrew. She gives the Hebrew alphabet at one point. As soon I remembered to read from right to left, I was able to make out many of the Hebrew words she adds.
It takes place mostly in London and environs. The characters were childhood friends and for the most part Jewish. One of them is even a very irreverent Rabbi. Irreverent is a key mood in this book. Smith takes advantage of the autograph stuff to do lots of celebrity references. One of the characters is deeply involved in the autograph scene.
There was more than one moment of serendipity. First of all, the very first page inside the cover was a long quote of a Lenny Bruce routine beginning “Dig: I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish. B’nai B’rth is goyish; Hadassah, Jewish.” It goes on from there classify stuff as either Jewish or goyish. This sets the stage for the book that one of the characters (not the Rabbi) is writing which does the same thing, classifying many things either Jewish or goyish.
Of course, Lenny Bruce is a life long patron saint of mine. So that’s fun.
Leonard Cohen makes an appearance in the book as himself. He instantly gets classified as goyish. One of the main characters quotes from Virginia Woolf’s diaries. Her name is Boot (the character) who quotes Woolf and says that she’s been reading the diaries. Like me.
So this book is turning into a guilty pleasure for me.
I am feeling much, much better. I had alcohol last night. A martini, some wine, and one whisky. I’m thinking if my weight and Blood Pressure continue to improve I may have alcohol on Friday nights. But we’ll see.
I am feeling very very grateful and happy to have my comfort restored. Plus I do not miss my church music work one little itty bit.
I am continuing to read C.P.E.. Bach’s letters. I also am working on a translated German biography of him by Hans-Günter Ottenberg. C.P.E.’s personality comes through very clearly and charmingly in the letters. Ottenberg moves quickly to talking about the music itself which I appreciate. I’m trying to read the library copies of these two books so I won’t have to buy them.
Eileen and I had a nice chat with Sarah in England. Tomorrow is Matthew’s birthday and they have big plans.
I baked up two mini pumpkins and an acorn squash I had sitting around. I also baked the seeds which I enjoy.
The big news is that Eileen’s loom arrived yesterday. It is fun to see her so excited.