Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sisters - Sisters - Never Were There Such Devoted Sisters......

The relationships between sisters will never cease to interest me. I know that there may be some who would kill for each other - some, well, not so much. My sister and I can sing this Rosemary Clooney song from memory and do all the dance steps and sway those fans too if we had to, but our history is informed by the fifty some years that came before and the different ways we perceive our life experiences to this point. There are whole patches of our history that we can't honestly discuss and others areas where there are huge gaps in our knowledge of each other's lives.

Because of this I've been drawn to literature that explores family relationships. So when I read an article in the NY Times about Margaret Drabble and her historically tense interaction with her other renowned sister, A. S. Byatt, I knew I'd have to pick up The Pattern in the Carpet; a Personal History with Jigsaws. Full disclosure. My sister loves Margaret Drabble - I love Byatt and am still on the wait list for her latest book. Still, I own some Drabble books, things I've picked up at book sales here and there saying "I'll get to those when I retire," joke, joke.

Ms. Drabble refers to her relationship with Ms. Byatt in the intro but makes a disclaimer that she's not going to "go there" in this particular book . Apparently she's been there before in her fiction. So, what do we learn about Margaret Drabble in this book? She speaks about a special friendship she had with her Aunt Phyl, which I can fully relate to as my aunt Jackie, my dad's sister, still a pip at 85 years old, is my Aunt Phyl. Ms. Drabble tells of how, when age and crankiness, took Phyl away from her they still had the companionship afforded by games, jigsaw puzzles in particular.

Now, you may not picture me reading a history of jigsaw puzzles. It's not my usual fare. However, there are some wonderful little tidbits in this book wherein the author relates the connection between games in art and child psychology and the reader nods his head and say "yes." I immediately thought of my friendship with my stepmother. There were times, when she was married to my dad, that I thought we had nothing in common. I would go to visit and be at a loss sometimes as to a common means of communication. But she was a jigsaw fan and we could spend quiet hours finding pieces of a puzzle that fit and find pieces of our relationship puzzle at the same time. We both loved the beach and could laze away a Sunday afternoon with the NY Times crossword and be content. After my dad died, we spent time together and grew much closer. We talked like never before and I learned fascinating things about her, as well as some very tragic things, that allowed me to appreciate her as never before. There it is, my personal history with jigsaws!

If you're wondering why I'm not writing as much as usual, I'll tell you what....I'm reading some heavy duty things and I can't just blow through them. I'm listening to a 17 disc, unabridged recording of Orhan Pahmuk's The Museum of Innocence. In the car I've got a phenomenal recording of Attica Locke's Black Water Rising, which I'll have a lot to say about soon. I just need to take a road trip to finish it up. I've got piles of overdue books all over the house and am getting ready to begin American Rust which has been on my "to read" list for a while and I expect I'll have a book from LJ any day now. Whew! If I didn't have a life, that would be fine but guess what? I do! Hooray for that!

No comments: