Dear Diary:


This diary entry is being written at great personal cost: I could be reading the further adventures of Eilis in Brooklyn. Correction: Eilis in Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent new novel.

It was a disappointment to find that Sara O, the Irish nurse at the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Infusion Therapy Unit, where I get my (now quarterly) fix of Remicade, was off duty today, because I was hoping to talk about Brooklyn with her. I have no idea if she’s a reader, or interested in novels with Irish themes — God knows I used not to be — but I wanted nonetheless, almost desperately, to converse with someone about Ireland, especially the old Ireland of Mr Tóibín’s novel, which is set four years before his own birth. The Ireland that I suspect Sara fled.

Because it was my fourth day with out-of-the-house business, I very nearly canceled the infusion. Instead, I had the (much) better idea of seeing a movie this evening, thus leaving tomorrow entirely free for work. Glorious work — or at least the glory of getting things done.

I went to see Goodbye Solo. A good friend strongly recommended it to me at lunch the other day, and then repeated the recommendation on the telephone whilst thanking me for picking up the check. I had never heard  of the film, which is a bit strange given the weighage and considerage that goes into my Friday-movie choices. Little did I know what a critics’ darling it is, with a stratospheric Metacritic score of 88. I learned about that later, after scratching my head during the credits. Goodbye Solo is a very powerful film in its way, but it taught me how important production values are to this bourgeois soul of mine.

(The curious thing about the “production values” thing is that I’m just the opposite about opera. All I ask of an opera production is that the singers stand center stage, directly over the orchestra, and belt. I loathe complicated sets and crowds of extras. In fact I’ve come to prefer concert performances, simply because they avoid the production-values problem altogether. But if opera is about hearing, movies are about looking. If I don’t want visual clutter to interfere with the auditory pleasure of opera, I’m also unhappy with home-movie aesthetics that deprive my eyes of a feast.) 

(And who is Red West? A bit player who has been given an extraordinary break, that’s who. Vivat!)

Just for the record, I read Kathleen to sleep with the following passages from Brooklyn: the Bartocci “Famous Nylon Sale,” the visit to the law-book store on West Twenty-Third Street, and, at full length, the scene in which Eilis’ landlady pre-emptively awards her the best room in the house. “You are the only one of them with any manners.”

Blogging has taught me that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks. Arf! But it’s odd nonetheless to feel that I’m being made to feel proud, by these books of Colm Tóibín‘s, of being Irish.

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