Sunday, July 11, 2010
summer of blame
Summer incites the edges of possibility. When I was very young, daydreams overtook, responding, perhaps, to the heat. Following Thermodynamic Law. If wishes were horses than beggars would ride. Everything either was or could be mine. Days stretched and lapped boredom. Summer was a lifetime.
Late adolescence, early adulthood boys and booze--those summers possibility courted excitement. I got into my share of trouble.
So now, wedged into potentially inert middle-age, where blockbusters, beach reads and food that hovers around poison (deep fried onions dipped in blue cheese dressing? Really?) begin to vie for a spot on the calendar, I turn to the rascal inside me. That sunlit muse; that mercurial sprite. And how it comes, when it comes, is as instinct for paradigm subversion. Because I'm pretty broke this summer, all my trouble needs to be free, and luckily, our library system is one of the best, if not the best, in the country.
Finally, I worked my way up the holds queue and it's my turn for Blame.
I'm three-quarters through it and I'm making myself put it down, lest I plummet too quickly in post-good-read-depression. What makes this book so damn good, you ask? At the risk of being hopelessly derivative, I'm with Brigitte Frase, whose LA Times review called Huneven's prose "elegant" while suggesting that even better than elegant prose is aesthetic pleasure. The delicate, unsentimental perp-walk along moral ambiguity, unapologetic nakedness and the darkest of the shadow of humanity has me so engaged, I'm nearly paralyzed. Which is the other side of summer: the promise of unending sloth. Dog days, they're called, but I think of them more as cat days. Willful suspension of brain activity in favor of wonder and magic.
Huneven's book blows everything out of the water. You must read it.