Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Memory of Junior

From Singles 2009

I told him his feet stinked.

"Maybe they really smell sweet," he says. "Think about it."

I told him he was crazy.

"No, no, no. Think about it," he says. "you know the whole existence, the very whole existence exists in our minds and in our minds only. I been thinking about this....Wait a minute," he says. "Listen. I mean all beliefs about everything are in our heads, not out there in the world. Tha's where everything is and always will be unless we take our brains out our heads, so that means that what somebody believes is their whole world. See?"

"No, I don't. What is this Philos'phy? Psycho'gy" Tate gets off on this crap sometimes. But I hadn't seen him this looped in fifteen years. "The difference between me and you, Tate," I said, "is I know stuff, and you know about stuff. Hit on that, you want to talk some philos'phy. Hit on that."

"Shit, Faison. You damn redneck," he says...

I re-read "In Memory of Junior". I read it the first time in about 1992. I was living in Wooster, Ohio teaching at The College of Wooster and I'd been there long enough that I had moved from Claudia's post (and office) to Anne's office - but not her position since she was in education. Anne was still there in Kauke hall - just up on the third floor. That move didn't get in the way of our lunch dates, however. It was about this time that we shared students. I was teaching a child development class (eegads) which was required for education majors. We were very amused by one young woman who called her Dr. G while I was Mrs. D.

At the time that was very funny. Sort of like this book.

Maybe it was because I knew enough of the story that I wasn't surprised enough to be as amused. Maybe my sense of humor has changed. Maybe it doesn't work as well when you read it in 3 page increments over 2 months. Maybe it is all the foul mood I've been in lately.

Anyway, the book starts out with a graphic presentation of the Bales family tree. You need that. There are lots of characters and they are, for the most part, related. Glenn and Laura, his second wife, are both bed-ridden and waiting to die. Whoever dies last will pass the property onto his or her children (Faison and Tate)/child (Faye). There is also the first wife (Evelyn) - who ran off leaving her 6 mo old infant, her brother (Grove) who wants to be buried in NC - now, grandchildren (Morgan and Junior) as well as assorted neighbors and friends. The story is told in first person narrative, though every few pages the identity of the narrator changes.

It isn't really a high action sort of story. It is more like you are listening in on a family reunion with folks gossiping about each other. They do tell some amusing stories and Edgerton has certainly captured their voices well.

That quote above by Tate - that is the sort of things we psychologists think about. But, what I really love is Faison's responding criticism of his brother.
"You won't ever get over going to college, Tate, you know that?"

Damn. It is a curse.

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