Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back, Barely

I hate JFK airport. It's got to be the...oh, why bother to relive yet another hellish encounter with this monument to corporate, bureaucratic, and design inefficiency? At least our plane was only an hour late leaving...

We arrived in mostly on piece, sans a suitcase that was delivered this morning. I slept until noon and want to go back to bed. It is awfully nice outside, or so Premium T. keeps assuring me. The restaining and refurbishing of our deck was completed while we were gone -- rotten boards replaced, remaining boards sanded, all boards restained, nails leveled. You can walk on it bare foot. Looks great...

On the flight back, I read Dermot Bolger's The Family On Paradise Pier,  a fascinating fictional account of the life and times of the Anglo-Protestant Goold Verschoyle family, whose idyllic life in Donegal becomes shattered by World War I, the Irish revolution and Civil War, as well as long-simmering sibling rivalry and family guilt about its relative wealth amidst poverty. Two of the three brothers turn to Communism while their sister -- the sheltered, romantic Eva -- learns to accommodate the realities and compromises of life without surrendering herself to them. Events take the family from rural Ireland to Dublin to London to the Spanish Civil War to Moscow and to Stalin's gulags. 

Threaded throughout is the antagonistic relationship of the Irish Catholic Church to the Stalinist radicals who sought to elevate Ireland's poor. Bolger shows how the Church's deeper understanding of the fears and traditions of the Irish people easily triumphed over Stalinist ideology even in the face of economic devastation. Compulsively readable -- I devoured most of it in one sitting -- it's one of the most insightful novels about class and the personal relationship to it that I've read. Includes cameo appearances by Brendan Behan, his indomitable mother Kathleen, and James Gralton, among others.

And, Family is based on the on an actual family named Goold Verschoyle. Bolger met the character based on Eva over 30 years ago, taped many of their conversations, and waited for them to ferment into a novel. Accomplished and highly recommended. More on the Verschoyles here...

New Orleans writer Julie Smith says that it's the secrets, not the crime, that make the Crescent City a great setting for mystery novels...

Besides sitting around listlessly and reading depressing accounts of racial divides and near bank runs, I've spent the morning trying to wake up to the strains of some new music that arrived in my absence:
  • The Band Of Heathens, The Band Of Heathens. Austin band that wears its allegiance to Little Feat proudly. How can you miss when Ray Wylie Hubbard produces and Patty Griffin joins in for three songs?
  • The Long Black Line, Spencer Bohren. Slow blues from New Orleans' Bohrens describes the long black line left by Katrina on every home it affected, then goes down from there, introducing a cycle of songs related by "tragedy, disaster, and the hardships of the human condition." Bohren mixes his own material with songs by blues masters of the 20's and 30's to make a strikingly original album unified by its theme and by his spooky Delta blues guitar.
  • 504 And Then Some. Assortment of live performances available to WWOZ donors and subscribers, many taken from the Piano Night they sponsor every year as part of Jazz Festival. I was already glad I'd subscribed, but this is the icing on the cake.
Oh, the president says that everything is peachy keen.

Spencer Bohren performs "Wade In The Water":


Foxessa said...

Welcome home!

JFK really does suck, doesn't it, in every possible way. Flying ....

At least you have a lovely deck, a lovely home, in a lovely place to return to. It's all good!

NS was on WWOZ extensively yesterday afternoon. Despite streaming capacity I didn't listen ... my bad. But, I really did have other things to do!

Love, C.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

have fun resetting your internal clock!

thanks for the heads up on bolger's book - sounds like a must read!

enjoy the splinter free deck.

answer to earlier question of yours to me: bob.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed the novel and thanks for such an interesting reading of it. Cheers Dermot Bolger