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The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NW



Zadie Smith’s NW. Not on Booker long or short list. On Beauty was. I don’t get the Booker choices. I’ve always been confused by the short list and especially the eventual winner. I always found those left on long list better. And where is Martin Amis? The Pregnant Widow was great. I sensed Bring up the Bodies would win. It’s not a piece of literature like the others, but it is so British.

-Hey Dad
-Hey son, good to hear from you.
-Are you eating well?
-Yeah

I know the settings of both NW and On Beauty, though not Northwest London as well as Boston. I want to know it better next time I’m in London by riding the buses more. I do know and like the Heath.

-Are you getting ready to return to school?
-No.
-What are you up to?
-Hangin with my friends.
-Are you exercising?
-No

I like the characters, Leah and Michel and how they interact. Their neighborhood is tough on them as they try to keep themselves together in spite of their environment. Are they spinning their wheels?

-I worry about you son.
-Thanks, dad.

I am looking at a bus map of Northwest London to follow the action. It is like when I read Ulysses before going to Dublin and wanting to follow Bloom’s path. Leah and Bloom are in a similar dilemma, surviving. The paradoxes. Being civil in a hostile world. Being hostile in a civilized world. Helping someone who comes to the door. Arguing at a dinner party. Finding themselves in the safety of home. A dog dies for their love. 

-Have you done anything fun?
-Yeah went skiing with Diana.
-How’d you do?
-Okay.

Fathers and sons are curious. Felix and Lloyd are curious. Role reversal. Then there’s Barnsey. I’m one of the silver tsunami. Great term.

-So what are you up to dad?
-Seemed to have gotten the flu when I came home. I’ve been in bed for four days. Felt better today  so I took short bike ride.
-I worry about you being alone, dad.
-I ain’t alone son. I’ve got friends and neighbors. Thanks. Come and visit.
-When I get my license.

Felix rides the Tubes like I do and I’m following him. I’m intrigued by Tom who prefers Brixton to Mayfair. Me, too. I lived in Roxbury rather than the Fens. Felix is a very interesting character, very accomplished, very smooth. He is his dad’s son. Poor Felix is trying to climb out of the hole when he meets those two thugs on the train, does the right thing to no avail. The paradoxes of life. 

-Have you read anything?
-No, just the Post. You know I hate reading.
-Yeah, one day that will change. You are such a good writer. That will lead you to reading.

When was the last time I heard “pluperfect” used in a sentence? The continued reminder of grammar throughout entertains me. I continue to have déjà vu as I read this book. I realize that I’ve read portions of this book previously published in The New Yorker. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This third part, Host, is a gold mine. I wish it existed when I was a younger man. I’m learning so much about women. Natalie becomes more like Bloom. No you can never go home because it is always right behind you. RIP Felix.

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