I’m three-fourths through The Stone Diaries. A friend of mine aptly commented that “it’s about everything and nothing.” The “everything” lies in Shields’ characterization. This is a novel about how humans go about filling the empty spots in their souls. It’s a little heartbreaking, and a little scary, and a little joyous. The characters could be seen as archetypes, or as aspects of a single soul, drawn out and exaggerated to allow close examination. The scary comes from knowing that we all have these empty spots, and that we may look just as desperate as Shields’ characters as we go about our lives, while remaining as unaware as they are.
Shields reminds me of Jane Hamilton - another author I need to spend more time with.
On a knitterly note, I finally read Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Lots of fun! I don’t feel compelled to rush to knit any of the patterns, but I was left wishing for more of Ann and Kay’s personal anecdotes and observations. I especially loved the story of the County Fair and the origins of the darling Fern sweater.
Finally, I re-read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food last week. I commented to my husband that it made me somewhat depressed. He was puzzled by that, since most people seem to find it inspiring. My deflated attitude is partially borne of the fact that even though we try to do things right – using whole foods, cooking for ourselves, avoiding fast food or excessive “quick fixes,” etc. – it’s still a plain fact that we buy most produce and meats from the supermarket, instead of seeking out the local sources that Pollan champions. So, yes, we’re part of the problem as Pollan sees it: Contributing to the nutritional and environmental decay occasioned by the boom of industrial food production.
I’ve also read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Don’t Eat This Book. I get it. I also know that our household philosophy has always been “all things in moderation.” We’ve never gone in for extremes in anything, including material goods, child rearing, or diet. This attitude has served us quite well. I have great respect for anyone who has the wherewithal to consume a completely local diet. I just know it’s not going to happen here, for a variety of reasons.
And so I feel somewhat deflated, when it would be more appropriate to see the glass half full. Because of the habits we’ve tried to foster, quietly but consistently, my kids think fast food is disgusting. They drink milk or water 98% of the time, even if they’re on their own with money at a venue serving concessions. They like cilantro and curry and black beans and lentils. They don’t buy food at school, even though they could avail themselves of french fries and nachos and all manner of crap.
OK, I’ve talked myself out of my funk for the moment. I guess that’s all pretty good, even if I’m not packing their lunches with organic hummus and sprout sandwiches.
That’s enough out of me. What are you reading these days?