I have never fully understood irony. Like the definition of graft and the location of Turks and Caicos, I feel I should know, but it may be too late; I have misused it too often. I was thinking about it again last night as our four-day weekend came to a screeching halt. And there was screeching, oh yes. On a day given to us by a man – a doctor! – who stood for, among other important issues, peaceful resolution, we fought as only our family can: vehemently, with much furious balling up of printer paper, while hungry and irrationally moody, concluding with stomping, door slamming, and one petty move to commandeer the oven. I wonder if members of Congress should remove the doors from their offices. You never know: my technique may lead to real bi-partisanship.
I’m now reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, a freaky sort of book. And by freaky I am referring to the haunting photographs dispersed throughout the book. The clown-wary should be careful. Some of you may remember the days of black and white photographs, square, sometimes with white curly borders. This book has several of those reproduced except instead of old Uncle Freddy holding a football, it’s a girl with two reflections or a weird kid in a suit, minus his head. The book is entertaining and engrossing, with a teenage protagonist who is troubled and self-centered as only a 16-year-old can be, alternating between impulse and hyper-sensitivity. Traveling with his father to a remote island, Jacob seeks answers to his grandfather’s cryptic last words and the WWII childhood consuming his imagination. The father/son duo is forced to stay on the island’s only inn/pub/community hub; they encounter several native islanders plastered into their bar stools, and, because there is no place untouched by baggy youth, a few sulky kids. It reminded me of walking home from school the year I was 12, uniformed up and dreamy, wondering if my brother would drink all the chocolate milk before I got home, or, more than likely, wondering if Marty Mullen noticed how I coyly rolled up my skirt that day. One old lady, at the top of her cement steps, would wave five-dollar bills at me as I passed. “Hey, kid! Get me some vodka, will you?” Good times. Anyway…just when I think all the magic bases have been covered in literature, along comes a new angle. I can’t imagine where Peculiar will end up, but I think that’s a good sign. Next on the list is another teen book, Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler of Lemony Snicket fame. I’ll let you know how it goes.