Saturday, November 3, 2012

We've Had Better Weeks...

It's a grey, depressing day to end a relentlessly depressing week.

Aside from some relatives in Florida and friends in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston, everyone I care about lives in the East Coast area hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Even a niece going to college in West Virginia, far from the coast, had to deal with a heavy, wet snowfall.

So let me turn to one of my favorite contemporary authors to depress us some more:
All this had to be accepted.  Living did not mean one joy piled upon another.
It was merely the hope for less pain...
- Lorrie Moore, "Referential," published in the May 28, 2012 issue of The New Yorker

Now, Lorrie Moore isn't a hopelessly depressing author.  On the contrary, many of her stories are very funny.  But she doesn't seem to do the literary showmanship she once did - putting in weird phrasings or constructions that take the reader out of the moment.  For example, in the collection "Self Help," the narrator, a woman, notes that her boyfriend is "stirring the spaghetti sauce but not you."  This construction is called a syllepsis or zeugma, and involves using a verb with multiple meanings to incorrectly modify two words.  I love those sorts of things, but they do tend to make the reader stop to figure them out.

But Lorrie Moore's "Referential" has no such grammatical leaps.  It's marvelously well done, but I defy you to read it an not be depressed.

Which makes it perfect for this day, and this week.

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