But you must read

Idiotic that I have my name plastered on this blog. Can't tell you any entertaining workplace stories. Also, there seems to be some suspense about whether it will continue to be workplace for very long. All I can say is that its wierd after not having had a steady job for years. And to be writing fun stuff all day....yaaaaay!

Despite high degree of brokeness I have been enjoying a wonderful run of goodbook karma. First, Snegum was in town and she lent me No Onions, Nor Garlic by Srividya Natarajan. A lot of people have been turning up their noses at this book and saying things like "I couldn't finish it." To them I say 'Chee Chee Thoo Thoo.' Read Jabberwock's detailed review and go out and buy a copy of this completely hilarious book. There is also a good interview of Srividya on the Kamla Bhatt Show.

An hour after I finished No Onions, I started a book that had me by the throat for days. Three Junes by Julia Glass is a book that achieves a near impossible ideal in literature: Sweet melancholy. (I have visions of people barfing after reading that phrase but its true!) The book is a tryptych like The Hours and like The Hours, one-third of the book is about a man dying of AIDS. But there the similiarity ends.

The first section of the book describes Paul McLeod's package tour in Greece soon after the death of his wife. McLeod is a newspaper publisher who married a barmaid, Maureen, a masterful, unusual woman. She continues to mystify him, decades into their marriage, even after they have sons together, even after he watches her die of cancer.

Fenno, Paul and Maureen's eldest son narrates the second section of the book. It begins when he comes home to Scotland for his father's funeral. His twin brothers and their families have unusual demands from him but Fenno is still caught in his memories of his friend Malachy. Fenno had lived in New York for years before he opened his bookshop. Several things prompt the opening of the bookshop. Though he avoids any relationships or even flings, he knows he wants to stay on and breathe the air among New York's gay community. An apartment in his building becomes vacant suddenly because the charismatic gay baker dies suddenly. Fenno's one real connection to the gay world, the peevish Ralph guides him into turning the bookshop into a success.

Malachy is the music critic who lives across the street, notorious for playing opera records all night and having incredible parties. Malachy comes to the bookshop one day and asks Fenno to look after his genius parrot, since he himself is no longer allowed to be near birds. Anything could kill him since he has 'the sickness.' And thus we are plunged into the tragic early days of the 'gay cancer', long before the cocktails arrived.

It's a fascinating book. Not a single theme is tacked on. Even the parrot and the dozens of collies are far from being jaunty, 'Run Lassie Run'-like additions. The Hours is perhaps one of my most beloved books but when I first read it, I could only read three paragraphs at a stretch, before I felt breathless. While reading Three Junes. I would look up from the book and be astonished to see people, healthy and stolid, eating or leaning against the steel rods of the metro or walking briskly along. In the days that I was reading it I constantly forgot that I existed outside the extraordinary romance of Fenno and Malachy. Read the book and I will hush now.

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