newest entry 2002-07-04 9:37 p.m.

History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than this Pilgrim band. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings, often in hunger and cold, they laid the foundations of a state wherein every man, through countless ages, should have liberty to worship God in his own way. May their example inspire thee to do thy part in perpetuating and spreading the lofty ideals of our republic throughout the world!

--Inscription on Plymouth Rock

The other morning I was sitting in the Grand Central Station dining area, eating my egg-minus-English-Muffin, and off in the distance, a folk singer wailed his sad tunes. He was OK--he was human, and his songs had the physical effect of crow-barring my heart open. There I sat, defenseless against his minor 7th chords. With an open heart, I started my day on really good footing, to mix bodily metaphors. I mean, I felt more open to other people, and was nicer to 'em. I imagine that other people were touched by his songs as they rushed by, and remembered their humanity even if just in a subconscious way. It was one of those times where I really felt the power of music beyond its entertainment value.

I tell you this tale as a little on-ramp to my explanation for why I'm not loving the Dawn Powell novel I've been reading.

DP's writing is crisp and sparkling, and there's no denying she was talented and observant. But...but...satire is so wearying. How can you sustain cattiness over twenty chapters? If I'm going to spend several days hosting a novel in my consciousness, I would like it to inspire or uplift me, or put me in touch with frozen emotions I don't otherwise have access to. At the very least, I would like it to show me a different landscape, or a familar landscape rendered differently. I would like to feel enlivened by what I take in with my senses. Cuz one honest folk song that surprises me on a Wednesday morning seems so much more powerful than all the wit in New York City.

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