Friday, 27 November 2020

Rereading Graham Greene’s THE HONORARY CONSUL


When I read the novel decades ago, I found it boring. I have just reread it and found it anything but boring – maybe because I’ve lived in Argentina meanwhile and recognize the conditions Greene describes or else because I pay more attention now to how male/female relationships are described.

 The protagonist, Dr. Plarr (or Greene himself?), is afraid of love, even the pretend-love of a prostitute.

You need not pretend anything at all with me (he tells her). A man is not nearly so stupid as he seems to you. He knows he has come to get a pleasure and not to give it. …She wasn’t annoyed. He could tell that she was accustomed to this sadness after coition. He didn’t differ, even in that, from the other men she had known. And this void, he thought – is she right? Is it no more than the temporary tristitia most men feel when they leave a brothel behind? …”I would like you to be yourself,” he said.

 Plarr himself takes pride in being a realist.

There were no sentimental relics in his apartment – not even a photograph. It was as bare and truthful –almost – as a police station cell. Even during his affairs with women he had always tried to avoid that phrase of the theatre, “I love you.” …if for once he had been aware of a sickness he could describe in no other terms, he would have unhesitatingly used the phrase “I love”, but he always had been able to attribute the emotion he felt to a quite different malady – to loneliness, pride, physical desire, or even a simple sense of curiosity.

 Why was he so wary of love? Because it put him under obligation.

Love was a claim which he wouldn’t meet, a responsibility he would refuse to accept…Something was always asked in return: obedience, an apology, a kiss which one had no desire to give. Perhaps he had loved his father all the more because he had never used the word or asked for anything.

 I ended up feeling sorry for Dr. Plarr. But is that the sentiment Greene wanted to evoke in his readers? Perhaps he thought there was something grand and heroic about Plarr renouncing love, whereas I see it as a kind of niggardliness, a refusal to receive love because one would have to give something in return. Not my kind of hero. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

DAY TRIP UP NORTH WITH A #ROCKHOUND

WHAT TO SEE WHEN YOU SPEND A FABULOUS DAY NORTH OF NORTH BAY.

-NO CARS

 
-NO PEOPLE ON YOUR HIKE

-AMAZING ROCK FORMATIONS

- PLUS: YOU GET TO BRING HOME A SOUVENIR TO PUT ON YOUR DECK

THAT THING IN THE BACKGROUND IS A FLOWER POT IN THE SHAPE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT'S HEAD -- IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

 

Julia #Kristeva’s POSSESSIONS: Not just a crime story.

 


And not just a throw-back to the good old days of the 90s, when people freely travelled, jetting between New York, Paris, London, and a fictitious place in Bulgaria. A respected academic, Kristeva knows how to hang her feminist ideas on a crime story a la Agatha Christie. Gloria is found dead – raped (?), stabbed to the heart, and decapitated. One of the people in the house must have done it, right? Spoiler alert: More than one did it. I don’t mind spoiling the ending for you because solving the crime isn’t the point of the book. Learning about life is. Here are some of Kristeva’s insights:

Self-denial is a delusion of grandeur, disguising trauma.

Art encourages the apotheosis of the self…it is a secular religion and the conversion of civilization to museums.

Translation: the problematical effort to shift the meaning of words adequately from one language to another.

Music as character-builder: It is concerned with tempo and measure and helps to make feelings “keep time”.

Journalists: the modern equivalent of priests. They manipulate everything and understand nothing.

Some people talk because they need an audience. Their message: I am not asking you to say what you think of what I say. I’m merely asking the impossible, that you should bear witness to my being and to my being okay.

Friday, 17 July 2020


REVIEWS  OF THE ROAD TO GESUALDO: “BORGIAS LITE”


Amazon.com corrected their mistake: I’m once again Erika Rummel.
Here are excerpts from two reviews of The Road to Gesualdo”:

An intelligently rambling look at life in 1500s Italy…I suppose you could call it “Borgias Lite.”

A pleasantly chaotic setting that gives us a grand scope of just how influential the Renaissance was starting to become across southern Europe, with scenes set from backwoods villages to Vatican City itself. Rummel does a particularly great job here at examining the curious cooperation and conflicts between the superstitious, pre-science Medieval period…and the rational, capitalist, politically savvy, science-embracing mercantile class.

People will enjoy the leisurely stroll through the very real-seeming daily lives of courtesans, countesses, merchants, and priests…even if there is always a rational explanation for everything and no sexy vampires.
(Jason Bettus, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography)


A vivid historical novel blending romance and intrigue in a female-centered story of strong women who rise above their upbringings and duty to become more effective forces in charge of their lives.

Rummel’s attention to strong characterization and capturing the sights, smells, and atmosphere of 16th century Italy contributes to a vivid story…which concludes with a satisfying twist.
(D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review)