The window is streaked with raindrops. I'm not complaining. We've had a few wonderful first-of-summer days and now I suspect one can almost watch the grass regaining its green and growing taller as it soaks up the rain. I love the late lightness in the sky now that we've hit the solstice -- I know it's minisculely a shorter day than it was two days ago, but that won't be noticeable until the end of July. The lovely weather we've had has given me a nice sense of contentment. Good walks, today another lovely drive on Rte. 6A to the movie theatre in Dennis to see a replay of the Met's Don Pasquale, a silly opera with magnificent songs and singing by a cast of only four: bass, baritone, tenor and soprano. The stage director went a little overboard with the comedy schicts. But it was clear the singers were having a lot of fun pulling out the stops and acting over the top. It was also clearly a special tribute to conductor James Levine who had returned after a serious illness and who was having a wonderful time with the music. Lots of good feelings. I've also been awash in good feelings of a more serious sort reading Mark Helprin's book of short stories called The Pacific. The wonderful thing about this collection of 16 stories is, firstly, that the protagonists -- and there's quite a range of them -- are essentially good people. They have serious problems, they deal with them in a variety of ways, some ineptly, some just doing the best they can, one by working miracles. These stories are obviously written by a mature writer who has been many places, who knows many things, who is long past mining his childhood for his stories, who is not caught up in "today" but uses places and themes that are larger and deeper.
I've had the book on my to-read shelves for some time. Rather often when I finish one book and go to the shelves to choose the next I do so in an almost blank state of mind. Everything on those two bookcase -- the top three shelves of each -- was chosen because it interested me for one reason or another. If I begin a book and find it dull or disappointing I can always put it aside. Sometimes, as with the Hiss book I read a few days ago, it surprises me and may be harder than I expected. And then there are unexpected very satisfying surprises like Helprin's book. I have a treasure of surprises on those shelves, most bought at thrift shops, library sales, or on impulse as a two-fer at a book store. Some have been there a long time, some are as new as last week. The shelves never actually get emptier.
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