I sent the offspring off the school, returned home, poured some senior diet dog food into Sally’s bowl and proceeded to tackle what is known as The Laundry System. Read: “system.” Three hours later , having found my missing expensive belt, some missing expensive exercise clothing and one missing expensive silk shirt, I gave away three hefty bags of clothing. The west wing of the house sighed with relief. It wasn’t too bad; I got to pursue my House Hunters International fetish while sorting through 1,200 mismatched fuzzy socks.
I have an extensive “requested titles” list at the local library, and on this day they all came in at once. What to do? Scanning the spines for “new” I rapidly sorted them into a ladder that would cost me the least amount of overdue fines. I shifted the tower aside and launched into Tana French’s newest, Broken Harbor. She’s a fabulous writer but I have to say there is a lot of ranting in this one. I loved her protagonist, the righteous and emotionally regimented Mike Kennedy, and I love how she overlaps her characters in her books. The real bonus is reading about Dublin with all its big city grime and despair and desperate hope. French has a shrewd and wary eye on her part-time city; it’s fascinating to be immersed in that. The mystery was good but predictable; the plot timely and sad, another reflection of how the global financial crisis can break a hardworking family.
Speaking of crises: Dave Eggers’ newest, A Hologram for the King (best title ever) gives us 54-year-old Alan, an exhausted craftsman/salesman trying to save his family and himself from financial ruin with one big deal in Saudi Arabia. Only problem is: he cannot seem to meet the King and he can’t relate to anyone on his “team.” He can at least talk to Yousef, his driver, who has to check under his car’s hood for fear an angry rival may be trying to kill him. Here is a book every college graduate should read, if not for the lean and surgical prose, then for the greater questions: What do we become when we cannot make anything ourselves? What will this do the the American sense of self?