Happiness is Not a Potato! & Chicken Pecking!

With injuries suffered in a recent horse accident, I’ve fallen behind on posting news about books recently read.

One of those books is Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, her final novel, published in 1852 (but you’re more likely to know her through Jane Eyre [1847)]. I enjoyed the elevated style, though parts were slow and other passages overly ornate—and thus it took me longer than normal to finish the book (529 pages in the Bantam Classic paperback edition).

Let me quote a passage where the protagonist, Lucy Snow has just been told by a doctor to keep a “cheerful mind”:

No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure.

Funny!

And what did I move to after that? W. Bruce Cameron’s novel A Dog’s Purpose (the story of a dog’s multiple lives, as it finds itself (I use a neutral pronoun because the dog is sometimes male, sometimes female) reborn in different guises. Very hard to take the dog’s deaths, particularly if you’ve had to live through several.

And then came Chris Pavone’s debut thriller (and the story of a disintegrating marriage) The Expats, which I read because I had just reviewed his second novel for Library Journal [for which see the post of Dec 2]; W. Bruce Cameron’s follow-up to his first dog book–A Dog’s Journey, not quite as good as the first one; Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, about which I’ve already posted a blog [Dec 2]; John Irving’s latest novel In One Person, which I didn’t enjoy as much as I have most of his books, probably because the subject matter (sexual differences) interested me less; and finally, yes, Max Brand’s 1930 Western–Destry Rides Again, as the front cover notes the basis for the classic movie starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. Quite a comedown as regards its style! But I did like one simile:

“Is that a way,” said the Colonel, “for a young gent to kiss a girl good-bye, when it’s a girl like you, and he loves her, like he does you? He pecked at you like a chicken at a grain that turns out to be sand and not corn! Hey, Charlie! [a female, his daughter] God a’mighty, what’s possessin’ you?”

A fitting moral to conclude with today: Don’t kiss your beloved good-by as if you’re a chicken pecking at a grain of corn! You might get sand in your grille!

Author: Ron

See this link for biographical info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Terpening