Ransom Note:
3 August 2018

Kathleen has been bothered, off and on, by a sore throat. It was very sore this morning — well, not alarmingly so, but enough to keep her in bed. (She blames the flare-up on Artic conditions aboard the Acela on Wednesday afternoon. It was so cold that she daydreamed about wrapping herself up in the window-curtains.) The other thing that happened this morning was that the Times was not delivered. There was no reason for me to get up, either. 

Eventually, I put on my reading glasses and tackled The New Yorker, and now feel sick. What a depressing issue! Ronan Farrow’s piece on Leslie Moonves, which appears not to have dislodged the allegedly disinhibited executive from the command of CBS, is pretty sick-making, not so much because of the amorous antics, revolting as they are, as because of the destructive campaigns to destroy the victim that follow. And it’s all so sordid. There should never be only two people in the room. A year or so ago, at the doctor’s office, I wailed to the nurse, when she belatedly entered the examining room, that her boss, a dermatologist who happens to be a woman, had been molesting me. (I am about forty times her size.) We all had a good laugh. Now I wouldn’t dream of cracking such a joke. 

Then I read Richard Ford’s story, “Displaced,” which, like so many Ford stories, ought to have been nothing worse than tenderly melancholic. Given my pre-existing mood, though, it was also rather sordid, involving an unwanted kiss and a boarding house full of low-lifes. (Loud-lifes, really.) What could be worse than losing the parent to whom you were drawn, and left in the custody of the parent from whom you’d like to escape? Well, Astrid Holleeder’s family story is worse, much worse. Astrid’s brother, Wim, is a murderous, narcissistic criminal, and her decision to record their conversations and then betray him to the authorities has exposed her to a potential hit. And her daughter and grandchildren, her sister and her children. Wim is one of those monsters, capable of wreaking havoc from prison through proxies, who make opposition to the death penalty problematic. 

I dozed off, and dreamed that all the young men who will download blueprints for 3D printed pistols might gang up and kidnap Manhattan. 

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