Reading Note:
Know Your Customer
1 May 2019

ΒΆ That I have absolutely nothing to say may be the result of my being engaged with four different books, none passionately. Yet, I feel I must add with regard to Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day. I read three pages of the new Ian McEwan, and could tell that it was going to take over, but I wasn’t ready for that, because I was already upset about Tommy Wilhelm, Bellow’s feckless hero. I don’t want to read about this character’s problems, but I can’t look away. Then there’s Antic Hay, which I’m finding considerably less gripping than Huxley’s previous novel, Crome Yellow. In fact, I’m finding it a crashing bore. I’m afraid that nothing less than Casimir Lypiatt’s stepping on a land mine can rescue it now. Finally, there’s David Cannadine’s The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain, which is just right for keeping certain thoughts about an essay that I’m working on at the simmer β€” but not, after all, a novel.

I’ve already read enough of Seize the Day to know that Tommy Wilhelm has invested in futures contracts for lard, which is really all it takes to spark the memory of still-painful horror stories from my days in the law department at E F Hutton. I was not one of the lawyers tasked with cleaning up messes in the commodities area, but I do recall suggesting to a branch manager in Ohio that perhaps more caution would have been in order when a very recent immigrant from Pinsk β€” a town still in the Soviet Union at the time β€” expressed a willingness to trade stock options. “They, uh, don’t have capitalism there,” I remember saying, when, as the mere fact of my being on the phone demonstrated, it was already too late.  

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