It took me so long to read The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger, I figured I would witness this couple’s fifth anniversary. I carried that book around with me, mentally adding up my library fines, until I thought I was part of the family. I decided, however, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Amina and George, the newlyweds, grew on me, as did their strange little lives and crazy little families, right down to a cousin romance and acid throwing in Bangladesh. Freudenberger weaves a complex story of identity, love and family; all the characters struggle with some aspect of these issues, or all. By the end, you’re not sure where anyone belongs or whom anyone should love. I liked noting the differences between Amina worrying about her job at a Rochester Starbucks and Amina riding around in a ‘Desh rickshaw (that’s what us locals call Bangladesh). Not a lot of joy or excitement awaits the reader here, but if you want a quiet story of ordinary dreams, it’s a good choice, and one that will make you contemplate your own.
Speaking of library fines, Mr. Halfstory, having racked up $6.70 for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, jumped right into the newest Jack Reacher and plowed through like a starving man on a meatball sandwich. I think Roger’s murder, controversial though it was in the 40’s, was not the conversation piece I was hoping for when I suggested he read it. I clip many things for Halfstory to read and often just read stuff out loud because I grow weary of watching old magazine articles pile up on the mini-fridge. The trick is to read it to him while he’s reading the sports section because it’s really fun to watch him turn his head slowly toward me, veiling the irritation while feigning interest. It’s an art and I respect it. It’s probably why he makes fun of the way I eat potato chips (I have no idea) and why he says things like “what can I safely say to your mother?” Currently he is downstairs watching a Brosnan Bond film, the one with Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist, for the love of god, because the last three movies I’ve chosen have “all been about crazy people and it’s torture.” As a couple, they cannot make Jason Bourne films fast enough; our love of Matt Damon has added a certain dimension to our marriage. That, and anything on Masterpiece Mystery or something with Tina Fey. Hey, what about Tina on Masterpiece?!
I shouldn’t dog him too hastily. I took the girls to see the Dutch Masters at the deYoung Museum last week and, as we were leaving, he said without breaking his eyes away from the six-hour pre-Super Bowl coverage, “their use of light is incredible.” There was no one in the room to impress; actually, at the time,, he was sitting on the laundry. But it made me think we might get to our 20-year mark. That is, if he keeps quiet about the potato chip issue.