Monday, June 30, 2008


Ten miles north of the Mexican border there's a town where you can sit on your back porch and watch the clouds quickly move across the sky. You can hear the thunder in the distance and see the occasional lightening bolt streak across the sky. Then the wind picks up, blows across your sun-baked skin, and soon you'll experience one of the greatest smells on earth: fresh rain on the dessert ground. It's a full sensory experience, both powerful and profound, and it's made even better by experiencing it all while sitting next to your brother.

In fact, they were the most beautiful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tender is the Night (Part II)

This novel was... sad. I mentioned else where, to one of my most loyal readers (haha, that's funny, to me, and that reader--to the rest of you I apologize), I said, "this might be the first novel that has left me feeling depressed." But I insist that's not a bad thing, it's better than the novel that leaves you feeling nothing, empty.

I've been moved many ways by books: happy, inspired, disturbed, understood, on and on, but this is a first as far as I can recall.

In order to depress the book had to come down from great heights. Let me give you a tour from the top of the world:

The voice fell low, sank into her breast and stretched the tight bodice over her heart as she came up close. He felt the young lips, her body sighing in relief against the arm growing stronger to hold her. There were now no more plans than if Dick had arbitrarily made some indissoluble mixture, with atoms joined and inseparable; you could throw it all out but never again could they fit back into atomic scale. As he held her and tasted her, and as she curved in further and further toward him, with her own lips, new to herself, drowned and engulfed in love, yet solaced and triumphant, he was thankful to have an existence at all, if only as a reflection in her wet eyes.

Else where, equally as high.

Despite the overhanging mountains Switzerland was far away, Nicole was far away. Walking in the garden later when it was quite dark he thought about her with detachment, loving her for her best self. He remembered once when the grass was damp and she came to him on hurried feet, her thin slippers drenched with dew. She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.

"Think how you love me," she whispered. "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am to-night."

Then you glance further down.

The truth was that for some months he had been going through that partitioning of the things of youth wherein it is decided whether or not to die for what one no longer believes. In the dead white hours in Zurich staring into a stranger's pantry across the upshine of a street-lamp, he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.

Bottom of the ocean. Shortly after Nicole decides to leave with the new man she loves, no longer loving Dick.

So it happened--and with a minimum of drama; Nicole felt outguessed, realizing that from the episode of the camphor-rub, Dick had anticipated everything. But also she felt happy and excited, and the odd little wish that she could tell Deck all about it faded quickly. But her eyes followed his figure until it became a dot and mingled with the other dots in the summer crowd.

And then, after so much love, feeling, life the last chapter crushes you. Because it all passes by, out of view. And we're left with nothing but a spot on a map, where we can point our fingers. Here.

Nicole kept in touch with Dick after her new marriage; there were letters on business matters, and about the children. When she said, as she often did, "I loved Dick and I'll never forget him," Tommy answered, "Of course not--why should you?"


[After a while] he didn't ask for the children to be sent to America and didn't answer when Nicole wrote asking him if he needed money. In the last letter she had from him he told her that he was practicing in Geneva, New York, and she got the impression that he had settled down with some one to keep house for him. She looked up Geneva in an atlas and found it was in the heart of the Finger Lakes Section and considered a pleasant place. Perhaps, so she liked to think, his career was biding its time, again like Grant's in Galena; his latest note was post-marked from Hornell, New York, which is some distance from Geneva and a very small town; in any case he is almost certainly in that section of the country, in one town or another.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tender is the Night, Book I

I just finished book one and for some reason I hadn't realized that Nicole, Dick's wife, was going to be the crazy woman in the story. I had read the introduction that was pretty lengthy and spoke of a doctor taking care of his mentally ill wife, but as I read the novel I assumed Rosemary was falling into mental illness and that her and Dick would end up together. Rosemary hints at having developing issues, she begins taking pills that are never fully described and she says she's going crazy falling in love with Dick, she starts to have sleeping problems, and seems so young and not ready for the affair her and Dick are headed for. Meanwhile, Nicole is portrayed as a Greek Goddess, perfect in every way, certainly nothing could be wrong with her. This put me at ease with their inevitable split, she would survive and move on, and maybe move upward.

Fitzgerald weaves the story in such a manner that even though there are children involved you don't worry about them any more than you worry about who will get the cars or the furniture. But then, there on the last page of book one you finally see Nicole breaking, you finally see the Nicole Dick tries to hide from the world (for her benefit more than his I suspect) and you realize.... Well I don't know what YOU realize. But I was sunk. But at the same time I started to love the story. I saw the complexities of Dick's position, which is silly because even without mental illness complexities were there. I wanted Rosemary gone. I wanted Nicole happy. I wanted Dick to take a second look and to get back to the path he was on before Rosemary entered their lives. And yet, I worry that none of the three will ever be happy while Nicole slips further and further away. My heart aches for them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008