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We lost Milo this year but I'm going to start reading books to dedicate these pages to him. Miss you, feller.


'The question of what constitutes a story is troublesome. E. M. Forster wrote, " 'The king died and then the queen died' is a story. 'The king died, and then the queen died of grief' is a plot."
– From Lydia Davis's Radical Fiction by Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, March 17, 2014

"It's odd that the word 'atheist' even exists," he says. "I don't play golf. Is there a word for non-golf players? Do non-golf players gather and strategize? Do non-skiers have a word, and come together, and talk about the fact that they don't ski?"
– Neil deGrasse Tyson, The New Yorker, Feb 17 & 24, 2014

"Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great, who founded a city that would house the most voluminous library of the ancient world – until it was burned, until forgetting came back into vogue. The great minds come down through the years like monkeys defending from high branches. Always, a leopard is waiting to greet them – in the tall grass, among the magnetic berries, in the place they should have checked."
– Charles Rafferty, The New Yorker, Feb 17 & 24, 2014

"There's a reason that Duke's players mostly complained of being cheated only of the dough. Originality comes in two kinds: originality of ideas, and originality of labor, and although it is the first kind what we get agitated about, we should honor the second kind still more. There is wit, made by the head and spun out into life; and work, created mostly by fingers engaging tools as various as tenor saxes and computer keyboards. It is an oddity of our civilization, and has been since the Renaissance, to honor wit more than the work, to think that the new idea 'contributed' by the work matters more than the work itself."
– Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, Dec 23 & 30, 2013

“The Lacuna” Barbara Kingsolver

“Ride With Me, Mariah Montana” Ivan Doig

“The Brooklyn Follies” Paul Auster

“Bleeding Hearts” Ian Rankin

“Faith” Jennifer Haigh

“The Dark River” John Twelve Hawks

“The Missing World” Margot Livesey

“The Good Son” Michael Gruber
Gruber is one of my favorite authors and The Good Son ranks with the best of his work. He unwraps insights into the Muslim world with agility and aplomb. I bookmarked six different passages, all worth a read below.

“…My thought is that until we recognize violent nationalism as another sort of mental disease we will get nowhere.”
“Yes, but where is the cure?” says Amin. “Who ever cured it?”
“Well, as to that I have some theories,” the Indian replies, “which I daresay you will hear enough about during the coming week to make you quite ill with the sound of my voice. And while I am not such a fool as to credit the inevitability of progress, I think that if one hundred years ago you had predicted that Western Europe, the greatest hotbed of nationalism of that era, the very source of the contagion, if you will, would be converted less than a century later into what amounts to a single great country, with a tiny armaments budget and utter peace among all its parts – well, people would have thought you a lunatic. But it occurred. And it can occur in South Asia as well.”

Dost Yacub was probably over seventy at the time, and one of the last traditional Pashtun storytellers in Lahore. He’d been a warrior in his time and had probably taken shots at people Kipling had known. He told stories about the war and feuds he’d been in, too, all about zar, zan, zamin – women, gold, and land – and in my child’s mind the stories of his adventures and the stories about princesses and jinns and man-eaters all blended together to make a picture of a different kind of world than my contemporaries in America were being pumped into them through the tube, none of that Sesame Street–Mister Rogers stuff there around the fire or under the hissing lantern. The fairy tales they tell American kids always end with “And they lived happily ever after,” but most Pashtun tales go out with heads rolling “And thus he had his revenge.” I mean, that’s the point of the stories.

“The problem, as I say, with cultural imperialism is that it can be completely unconscious, which I believe is the case here. For example, you used the phrase knuckle under. By that you mean it is wrong or unseemly for people to submit their will – their whim, even – to a traditional authority. Yet all of Muslim society is based on submission to the will of God, and everything follows from that. You look at us and you see oppression; we see stability and harmony. You see corruption; we see tie of family, friendship, and mutual support. You see feudalism, we see mutual responsibility. You see oppression of women, we see the defense of modesty. But then you say, but look at you! See how poor and weak you are and how rich and strong we are, because of our culture, which prizes freedom above every other human value – no, that destroys every other human value to secure absolute freedom. In response to that, sir, I ask you to look at two things. First, yes, we are poor, but until sixty years ago, you Europeans owned all of us, we worked for you and not for ourselves. So of course we are poor – it took Europe eight centuries to recover from the yoke of Rome and its collapse. I say to you, sir, have a little patience! And the second thing is, for all but the last two and a half centuries, the traditional society you condemn was quite successful. A thousand years ago London was a wooden village occupied by starving barbarians and Baghdad was the greatest and richest city in the world. So perhaps it will be that way again; who can tell what God has planned?”

He sits in silence, stroking his beard; she studies his face. For a moment the harsh Pashtun male mask he wears fades and a more contemplative person is revealed. They get that from the secret life they share with their mothers, she thinks. The poor women have only a single opportunity to acquire a fragment of power over their lives, and this is through their sons when they are small. But the women are stupid and beaten down, so they can rarely give their boys the spark of a strong opposite, the feminine introject that leads to individuation. And so the boys never grow up. They retain the brutality and carelessness of boys their whole lives, living on boasts and the good opinion of their gang. And they have the short attention span of boys and the romantic wildness, building nothing, dumbfounded by the civilizations around them, knowing as little of how a political order or modern economy is constructed as a six-year-old knows about what his father does at work. So they are doomed to poverty, the manipulations of others, and early death.

Last words of a man named Ashton about to be executed:
“Everyone knows this, but everyone disagrees about what should be done. Some say, abandon the traditional ways and become just like the rich countries, but no Muslim country has been able to do this except Turkey, which is a special case and only partly successful. Others say socialism – or said, because that has proven a false hope. Still others say, and you among them, let us return to living under the sharia, the law of God. If you meant that, no one would oppose you. Who in the west would give two pins if you all decided to live simply and be devoted to God? In America there are people, Christians called Amish, who live as their forefathers did, without electricity or machines, simple lives of peace, and everyone praises them and even envies them, a little. Or there are Jews who follow the exact law of Moses and dress as they did three hundred years ago, and who bothers them? But you don’t want to live under sharia, if living so means living peacefully in a museum. No, not at all. You want to rule. You want all the goods of the west, you want Viagra and tanks and missiles and electricity and cell phones and computers. But you can’t pay for these things because you also want to remain ignorant and uneducated, so you become tools of oil sheikhs and sell drugs. You become the dogs of anyone who will buy you a gun. Is this the world of God? And who are these strangers you follow, from Arabia, from Egypt, who tell you it is forbidden to do things that your fathers and their fathers’ fathers did for as long as there have been Pashtuns? Were your fathers infidels? O Pashtuns, who taught you to spit on the graves of your ancestors?”
“…None of you would drink from a stream unless you knew the water was pure and unpolluted, or eat meat that was not prepared according to the law of halal, but you don’t take the same care of what you put into your minds, although the mind is the seat of the soul and it is the soul that will live in paradise, as you believe. Would you bring a polluted soul before God? So you must have care with what you believe.”
…He speaks further in the same vein, about the great Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian who first extended these ideas to a condemnation not only of colonial regimes but also to supposed Muslim states that aped the infidels and pursued modernism, socialism, democracy, and liberalism. The poverty and weakness of the Muslim lands was their fault, Qutb said, because that had turned from the true religion. They were apostates, illegitimate, and every real Muslim was bound to resist them. The goal was nothing less than the restoration of the caliphate, a system in which state, religion, and society were again one, unfragmented, guided by the eternal word of God, embodied in the sharia. Qutb died a martyr, but his ideas could not be killed so easily. They spread, urged on by the shame of the Zionist usurpation of Palestine and the holy city, Al Quds, and the assaults on the umma by the Russians and the Americans. They were turned into action by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and here Ashton tells the familiar story of triumph and defeat and renewal. He says, “These ideas now live on in you. This is why you are here.”
“…The question now is whether you will succeed. Will you bring the caliphate to life again and erase five centuries of history? And the answer is of course you will not. As the poet says, The moving finger, having writ, moves on; the Muslims may yet have another golden age, but it will not be like the last one, not at all. And your terrorism is futile, an announcement of impotence, the rage of a spoiled child. The powers of the earth will never allow a regime forged by terror to survive. The Palestinians have been crushed, the Chechens have been crushed, and the Russians left Afghanistan for the reason that all foreign powers leave Afghanistan, not because of the valor of the Pashtuns but because Afghanistan is worthless, a dry, rocky country that produces nothing but apricots and opium.”
At these words the audience begins to rumble menacingly, but Ashton raises his voice and goes on.
“At some level you know this, and that knowledge is symbolized by the suicide bomber. In all history, no campaign of suicide has ever prevailed. It is the last stage of impotent fury – meaningless, insane. At last we come to that word, and the purpose of the conference you have held hostage, which was to examine the psychological basis of the jihad. I am not a psychologist, but I have a theory. Perhaps my colleagues will disagree and call me foolish, but I will not be around to hear it, and I speak, therefore, without fear of contradiction. The key lies, I believe, in the one feature that marks all Salafist regimes, from Saudi Arabia to the Taliban, and that is the oppression of women.”
“Why should this be? The Prophet was respectful of women, of his wives, Khadija and Aisha, and his daughter, Fatima, and the rightly guided caliphs consulted them in Islam’s early days, those days for which you pretend a deep and reverent nostalgia. The Qur’an is not notably against women, not even as much as the Bible. So I must conclude that the oppression of women is not a by-product of the jihad movement but its purpose. What drives you to murder and suicide is not the love of God but the fear of women, of educated women, of women released from the absolute domination of men. Because women are a true mirror. They are more sensible than you are, they want their children to flourish, and if they were free they would look at you all, and ask, ‘O believers, why so poor, why so ignorant, why so despised by the world?’ And they would despise you too. You fight to prevent this, you fight to preserve not the modesty but the stupidity of women, and where you succeed these stupid women produce evener stupider sons – yourselves – and if there were a God he would laughing in all your faces.”

“well, take yourself, for example. By your own admission you’re a corn-fed midwestern woman, and despite the fact that you’ve been around the world in some pretty rough places, you retain that basic American optimism: folks are the same all over, everyone wants the good things in life, and so on. Being American, and Protestant in the bargain, you’re all for individual responsibility and the individual conscience that goes with it. You’re basically in control. If you’re in a church that doesn’t suit you for some reason, you’re out the door into another or you start your own. And you believe in progress. We can help people to advance, to be like us: bill of rights, elections, clean water, flush toilets, antibiotics, refrigerators, and cars, the works.”
“Don’t you?”
“Up to a point. But as I said, I have the long view ingrained, along with all my co-religionists. Look at us now, locked up in what we think of as the ass-end of nowhere, but this area was once connected to a universal empire that stretched from Spain to Indonesia. A thousand years ago, Baghdad was the capital of the world, the richest city since the fall of Rome. Basra was the intellectual center of that world. Ever been to Basra? Today it’s easily distinguishable from Silicon Valley, but back then they were inventing paper and mathematics based on Arabic numerals, and they had more books per capita than anywhere else. Hell, there were more books and scholars in Timbuktu than there were in Paris. Timbuktu! The metonym for isolation!”

“Peace Like A River” Leif Enger

This book was a fabulous surprise - a book of miracles that take place in the South Dakota Badlands. Read this one!

After Davy Land killed two bullies who had invaded their home, here is Reuben Land, his little brother who witnessed the shooting, musing on his ‘bragging’ to the prosecutor named Elvis:
A person can’t regret honesty any more than other unavoidables – a plain face or a poor history. What I regret is how I said it: like your choice of stupid punks with something to prove. I said it with belligerence, a trait ever cultivated by fools. I said it, I tremble to admit, as Israel Finch might have. And predictably, chaos accompanied belligerence into office. For that putting-down-the-dog remark led Elvis to seek and pull from me other facts pointing to ill intent: that Davy already had his coat on to deliver vengeance when Dad stopped him; that Davy had been angry with Dad earlier, when it seemed to him the locker-room beating hadn’t been nearly severe enough; that Davy, waiting on the stairs for his arrest after the shootings, had grabbed my wrist and spoken the words I meant to. With despair I heard myself answer Elvis’s inquiries, each answer seeming horribly convicting the moment it was uttered. Oh, I was a meek enough fellow now – but it didn’t matter. Elvis drew these facts from me and unfolded them to view and laid them before the court like a series of bloody hankies.
I saw it happening but could not stop it. Humility came to me too late. I’m a living proverb; learn from me.

Later on in the story, Davy is pointing out constellations to Reuben. This moment struck a chord with me:
I could only nod. Having someone point out constellations is pleasant as long as they don’t insist that you actually see them. Aside from the Dipper and Orion and the Teapot, constellations tend to hide in the stars.

“Breath” Tim Winton

It’s easy for an old man to look back and see the obvious, how wasted youth and health and safety are on the young who spurn such things, to be dismayed by the risk you took, but as a youth you do sense that life renders you powerless by dragging you back to it, breath upon breath breath in an endless capitulation to biological routine, and that the human will to control is as much about asserting power over your own body as exercising it on others.

“He Who Fears The Wolf” Karin Fossum

“Badger Games” Jon A. Jackson

“Cloudstreet” Tim Winton

“The Cadence of Grass” Thomas McGuane

“My name is quite close to yours, Evan. My name is Evelyn.”
As she said this, she felt the room grow distant and time awkwardly slow. She couldn’t for the moment understand why saying her own name aloud made her loneliness so evident that it nearly choked her. Now all funny thoughts had fled. She looked at her young dance partner and wondered if he yet understood that all the cures for loneliness failed, that it was a chronic state and that anything used to anesthetize it turned into its own problem. Yes, she thought, we’ll spare Evan that.
The lead singer came rushing across the stage, bent back from the waist, madly waving a handkerchief, his mouth a distorted trumpet. A sort of codpiece slid halfway down one thigh as angry quarter notes from the guitarist drove him back to the microphone screeching, “Don’t need no, Don’t got no –!” while he raped the stand that held it up. This provided an awkward background that Evelyn suddenly thought was funny. At that same moment, when the front door opened and snow flew in, the singer took time out from his throes to actually frown at the weather.
That did it. Evelyn doubled in laughter. Indeed, Evan had to hold her up, even as she recognized this as hysteria and a ghastly form of release. But it was contagious: the dancing stopped. Right after the fraught singer had concluded several pacts with the devil, the air went out of the room. The lead guitarist peered through the lights furtively. The drummer’s blurred arms no longer seemed part of him as he stole furtive glances at the audience. Evelyn’s hysteria was a conquering force. The singer seemed strangely platitudinous when, so soon after his arrangements with Satan, he demanded of the crowd, “Tou want to try this? Anybody like to get up here and show us how good they are?” An unshaven brute in the audience, beer bottle brandished by its neck, his hat on backward, informed the singer that he was “crazier than a shithouse rat.”

“The Undertaker’s Wife” Loren D. Estleman

“Rough Country” John Sandford

“Duplicate Keys” Jane Smiley

“City of Masks” Daniel Hecht

Most human beings thought of physical space as delimited: a room, four walls, ceiling and floor, earth below, sky above. Simple. But in reality we’re walking around blind, he thought. We’re groping our way in an infinite place full of unimaginable happenings. A ghost makes us uncomfortably aware of how tiny and how blind we are, how strange the universe is how right there its unseen dimensions are.

The Wolf was a loup-garou that terrorized the swamps. He could lope through the night over land or water or swamp and turn into a man or a wolf at will. The scariest picture was when he was halfway between. When he came to the house of his victim, he became as stealthy as a shadow and tool great pleasure in stalking his unknowing victim. Before he struck, he’d whisper the name of his intended prey at door cracks and keyholes.

“Snow Angels” James Thompson

“San Miguel” T. C. Boyle

“War Trash” Ha Jin

To be able to function in a war, an officer was expected to view his men as abstract figures so that he could utilize and sacrifice them without any hesitation or qualms. The same abstraction was supposed to take place among the rank and file too – to us every American serviceman must be a devil, whereas to them, every one of us must be a Red. Without such obliteration of human particularities, how could one fight mercilessly? When a general evaluates the outcome of a battle, he thinks in numbers – how many casualties the enemy has suffered in comparison with the losses of his own army. The larger a victory is, the more people have been turned into numerals. This is the crime of war: it reduces real human beings to abstract numbers.

Another question troubled me for some time. Were the arts groups’ creative activities truly artistic, as they claimed? In the beginning I had respected the composers and the painters immensely. Unable to play any instrument, I’d look up to whoever could saw a tune out on a fiddle even if he played with assumed bravura. But before too long I noticed that there was a crudeness un whatever they did, as though the idea of perfection had never entered their minds. I daresay this crudeness originated from their utilitarian conception of the arts. They created every piece of work merely for its usefulness, like that of a weapon: each was made simply for the purpose of rousing people and boosting the fighting spirit. These creations had an instantaneous feel, a dash of spontaneity, but invariably ended in a slipshod fashion. Most of the time a man would finish writing a song or a poem at one go, and he’d be proud of completing it “without changing a single word,” and even brag about it, as though to assert that the work had come purely from inspiration, which was a mark of genius. Patience and refinement were alien to these young men, who couldn’t see that art didn’t have to be useful or serve a purpose other than entertainment. Their works could be powerful at times, but never beautiful. So I began to have deep reservations about their efforts and sometimes felt they were just wasting their energy and time. No doubt these men were talented, ingenious, and passionate, but they always stopped at the point to which their cleverness led them, not going beyond into complexity and subtlety, not to mention depth. As a result, however extravagantly they used their talent, they remained like smart hacks, blind to their own shoddiness. There was no way to explain my thoughts to them without risking my neck, so I kept quiet.

“Solar” Ian McEwan

“Deadman” Jon A. Jackson

“Wickett’s Remedy” Myla Goldberg

“The Hypnotist” Lars Kepler

“The Ice Princess” Camilla Lackberg

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” Audrey Niffenegger

“World Made By Hand” James Howard Kunstler

“A Free Life” Ha Jin

The speech annoyed Nan, whose illusion of this master poet quickly vanished. He wondered why Mr. Chu had let national pride supersede the value of his poetry, as though patriotism and literary arts should be judged by the same criteria. As an accomplished poet, he should see that the function of his poetry was to transcend history and to outlast politics and that a poet should be responsible mainly for the language he used. Instead, he was haranguing like an official in charge of propaganda.

“Known to Evil” Walter Mosley

“Hard Rain Falling” Don Carpenter
This is Don Carpenter’s (1931-1995) first novel published in 1966, now being reprinted by New York Review Classics. He reminds me of the early work of Hubert Selby; tough, honest writing.

As for the true crimes of his life, the crime of being born without parents, the crime of being physically strong and quick, the crime of not having a puritan conscience, the crime of existing in a society in which he and everybody else permitted crime without rising up in outrage: well, he was purely and perfectly guilty here, too, as was everybody else. So that didn’t matter, either. The trick was to keep from being “punished” for his “crimes.” He decided that to fight the authorities, to balk, would in a sense be admitting that they were right and he was wrong. But of course there wasn’t any right or wrong. So it was better to cooperate, to do anything that would lessen his punishment.

“Summerland” Michael Chabon

“Four sides,” Ethan said. “Four worlds! It’s a map of the tree!”
“That’s right,” Thor said. “The white one is the Winterlands. The green one is the Summerlands. The brown one is the Middling. And the blue one is –.”
“The Gleaming. Which is blank. Because no one knows what happens there. Or how you get there. Or even who lives there.”
“I know who lives there,” Thor said. “Old Mr. Wood. And his brothers and sisters. The – what Mr. Rideout called the Tahmahnawis. The spirits. The gods. They – they’re all up there, or over there, or in there. In the Gleaming. They’re trapped there. Yeah. Yeah, Coyote did it. There’s a – there’s a whole story, like, a song, or a poem or I can’t quite…” He shook his head. “Its all about how Coyote tricked them. Got them in there and sealed the Gate. And now it’s been sealed ever since. And none of them, not even old Mr. Wood, can get out. It’s part of all this…data that seems to have been…uploaded to my head since we got to the Summerlands.”

“City of Bones" Michael Connelly

"Depths” Henning Mankell

"I See You Everywhere" Julia Glass

Oh Lucy, I wanted to say, you are a young girl. I felt so moved by the look on her face that I couldn't quite answer. I asked, "Well, are you thinking of, like, revolutionizing your tastes?"
"Revolution is no longer a possibility," she said. "My tastes, like my bones, fossilized decades ago. Reach a certain age and you are obliged to become an anthropologist. It's the only way to ignore that the rest of the world regards you as an artifact, that your culture has faded beyond the horizon, leaving you adrift on your tiny, solitary, life raft." She said this without self-pity or sadness. I'd lived with her for a month and hadn't stopped to think, till then, that she no longer had any friends her own age. Not a one.

Every so often Ralph's gaze shifts to the sky outside the window, over my head, but I know he is also intent on our conversation. "All 'good work,' " he says, "feels foolish at times. Naive and stupid. That's part of the territory. She knew that."
And how about the work that really is foolish? I think. How about parsing and praising the glories of art? Isn't art, strictly speaking, just another form of human excess, even waste? Shouldn't it seem pointless once you think your whole world's been changed by (for example) cancer, then by your own sibling's death, then by a terrorist act? Is it "good" to go on doing the same old oblivious thing, to still enjoy it no matter what? Does perseverance steady the world?
"I don't know what she knew, if you want to know the truth," I say. "I want it not to matter, but it does."
"Of course it matters."

"Daniel" Henning Mankell

"Netherland" Joseph O'Neill

In this ever-shifting, all-enveloping discussion, my orientation was poor. I could not tell where I stood. If pressed to state my position, I would confess the truth: that I had not succeeded in arriving at a position. I lacked necessary powers of perception and certainty and, above all, foresight. The future retained the impenetrable character I had always attributed to it. Would American security be improved or worsened by taking over Iraq? I did not know, because I had no information about the future purposes and capacities of terrorists or, for that matter, American administrations; and even if I were to have such information, I could still not hope to know how things would turn out. Did I know if the death and pain caused by the war in Iraq would or would not exceed the miseries that might likely flow from leaving Saddam Hussein in power? No. Could I say whether the right to autonomy of the Iraqi people – a problematic national entity, by all accounts – would be enhanced or diminished by an American regime change? I could not. Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction that posed a real threat? I had no idea; and to be truthful, and to touch on my real difficulty, I had little interest. I didn’t really care.

"Touch" Elmore Leonard

"Side-Tracked" Henning Mankell

"I started as a 15-year old trainee at one of the Stockholm newspapers," he said. "That was in the spring of 1955. There was an old night editor there named Ture Svanberg. He was almost as big as drunk as I am now. But he was meticulous at his work. And he was a genius at writing headlines that sold papers. He wouldn't stand for anything sloppily written. Once he flew into such a rage over a story that he tore up the copy and ate the pieces, chewed the paper and swallowed it. Then he said: 'This isn't coming out as anything but shit.' It was Svanberg who taught me to be a journalist. He used to say that there were two kinds of reporters. 'The first kind digs in the ground for the truth. He stands down in the hole shoveling out dirt. But up on top there's another man, shoveling the dirt back in. There's always a duel going on between these two. The fourth estate's eternal test of strength for dominance. Some journalists want to expose and reveal things, others run errands for those in power and help conceal what's really happening.'"

"Mountain Time" Ivan Doig

"Prodigal Summer" Barbara Kingsolver

"Bucking the Sun" Ivan Doig

"Driving the Rim" Thomas McGuane

My sojourn in the Rust Belt certainly made me appreciate my someplace more than before I left. We had beautiful mountain ranges that kept their snow all summer, though very few of those of us who lived there ever went into them. We thought only out-of-towners went into the mountains, as most Westerners lived in town and were town people like anywhere else. My father used to say that the only thing that set us apart was cheap electricity. Some of that had changed of course, once we learned to keep outsiders from glomming our assets by appreciating them more than we had. It had been a long time since we proudly pointed out that you couldn’t eat scenery. That sentiment belonged to an earlier generation, the ones with “Treasure State” license plates nailed to the garage. Tell someone today you can’t eat scenery, and they’ll out you in the old folk’s home. Where I come from, the wind was the big issue, until you figured out the wind was the price of space.

I had never been anywhere as noisy as Florida. Airplanes went back and forth overhead, people sped around on various motorized things, and horn honking was as popular as in New York. The leaf blowers roared from sunup to sundown. That many people with no good reason to be there filled the place with a kind of giddiness, not just everyday giddiness but the kind that precedes despair and catastrophe. It was once to be warm, but the television was dominated by weather reports holding out expectation for more warmth or a rootless fear of cooling. The local weatherman, a black homosexual in a Palm Beach suit, could say, “Some chance of precip” with the air of a man headed to the gallows. Inability to control the weather fed disquiet, since, except for the weather, most would rather be anyplace but here.

Staying in one place long enough, you saw the rise and fall of domestic arrangements and the physical appurtenances that accompanied them. At a certain hormonal stage, tempered by moderate practical knowledge, the couple formed and began to construct the cheese ball. The cheese ball consisted of a building known as the home, the transportation equipment, the sustenance gear including heating and cooking facilities, the investments and liquidity that kept the cheese ball from rolling backwards and ruining its owners; then, in most cases, the eventual collapse of the agreement that had generated the cheese ball int eh first place and the subsequent delinquencies of the cheese itself into its component parts, to be reconstituted int eh generation of new cheese balls by less-fortunate couples or, in some cases, the complete vanishing of the cheese ball entirely.

"When the Devil Holds the Candle" Karin Fossum