Our tan is hard won, but we know it will soon fade as the days grow shorter and the words of that curmudgeonly scold Jeremiah pierce us once again: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Yet college football returns and the metrosexual in us wonders if pleated khakis are making a comeback, given the overpaid coaches we see spouting jeremiads of their own about “execution” and “we need to make adjustments” to attractive lady reporters on the sidelines at halftime. Perhaps all is not lost. It is little things that keep us looking forward to the autumn sunshine and 20-foot putts drained.
But we have been touched by our summer reading beyond the Holy Bible, so we’ve got that going for us (see “Caddyshack”). George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” is one of those books we should have read many years ago, but we just found her this year, and have trembled. Gotta tell you, dear reader, we love this gal. OK, we’re a sensitive guy. The heroine dreams of accomplishing great things, but a lot of other things happen on the way; yet she remains authentic through a misguided marriage, widowhood and eventual union with the man she loves and who loves her. Eliot says this about her:
“…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
We expect our tomb, and probably yours, gentle reader, will remain unvisited as well.
The plot of “Daniel Deronda,” another Eliot masterpiece, is flawed by unlikely coincidences, but the portrait of the heroine Gwendolen is so affecting that it reminded us of our struggle to be “good” when our first instinct is to think of our superior selves:
“Those who have been indulged by fortune and have always thought of calamity as what happens to others, feel a blinding credulous rage at the reversal of their lot and half believe that their wild cries will alter the course of the storm.” If only Donald Trump could learn to read.
We have long been a Civil War buff, having visited battlegrounds from Pea Ridge in the west to Gettysburg in the east, so we were inspired by the events in Charlottesville and Confederate monument brouhaha to take a stab at Jefferson Davis’ ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.” We recommend it for those interested in arcane legal arguments over the legitimacy of secession, but a page turner it is not. We all know how it ends.
Far more illuminating is James M. McPherson’s “Embattled Rebel,” a surprisingly sympathetic view of
from this generation’s foremost Civil War historian. Not really germane to the subject itself, it
struck us that the lost art of letter-writing, yea, even writing in thoughtful complete
sentences, is probably forever lost in the age of instant telecommunication.
Sad, as a Trump tweet might conclude. Davis
We performed our annual re-reading of “Hamlet,” and discovered that we are more like the gas bag Polonius than we would like to admit. We are very good at tut-tutting. We have an opinion on everything and are convinced we are wise, despite our track record.
Our favorite read was a collection of Scott Fitzgerald stories that somehow have remained buried, “I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories.” Some are weak, but the tales of love won and lost have a special attraction for us. Our favorite was “Trouble,” the nickname of a heroine who reminded us of an old girlfriend. Which was nice.