Thursday, November 02, 2006

Things you probably shouldn’t talk about on your blog, but what the hey:

Nonreader turned up only 40 minutes late and had not only obtained a copy of the JD Salinger collection of short stories To Esme with Love and Squalor, but had read two of them. Not admittedly the key one we’d all agreed we should read as a minimum, but hey ho.

Discussion of the stories included concern about the repeated motif of a relationship between a grown adult and a young child. A kindly interpretation is that the child in such cases is being used to represent innocence and the opposite and indeed possible antidote of the world-weary damaged adult. However, to the modern eye, some of the interactions and the repetition of the theme in several stories is more troubling.

In the opening story, the troubled central character alone on a beach has an interaction with a young girl, who has been left to play by her mother. Their interaction whilst charming on one level, contains several moments of physical interaction that give reason to pause. The man grabs her ankles playfully, and whilst he’s pushing her in the sea on a float, raises one of her feet and kisses the underside.

Certainly to the contemporary reader this raises questions. If a man you didn’t know was acting this way with your daughter, how would you feel?

In the eponymous story regarding Esme, a relationship is struck up between an American GI and a precocious young English girl in a country tea shop. This chance encounter appears to become the foundation for a correspondence between the two over many years to come.

We discuss how this again feels uncomfortable and also rather unsatisfactory, to which Nonreader chimes in to disagree with a story (about her, of course) to argue against this and being a ‘bad person’ I just had to follow it through:

NR - Well I struck up a correspondence with someone I met on holiday years ago and we’ve been in touch ever since.

L – what was the age difference?

NR – nearly ten years.

L - So how old was he and how old were you?

NR – oh it was a woman

L – errr ok, how old was she

NR – nearly fifty

L – and how old were you?

NR - Early forties

L - so you were both adults?

Dear reader, can I at this point at least claim some brownie points for not doing my finest, non-pc, aren’t playgrounds cruel, Joey-style “durrrhhhh” face?

In fact I didn’t even do it later in the evening when, she informed T in the most patronising manner possible that “you see what the second world war was about was that people didn’t want to be overrun by Nazism…”.

It’s enough to consider for a microsecond whether we dismissed eugenics too swiftly…


Caroline said...

;) you're so so good at self restraint.....congrats on achieving the seemingly impossible!

sally said...

good to read your blogs covering this last week - i have missed you. Hope your mum continues to improve.,,,you know where I am if you need

Martyn said...

So good to see you at the weekend. Hope your mum gets well.