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Well, I'm Back!

But not for long! A week from today, I will be busily trying out my naughty vocabulary as I supervise movers and start unpacking things in Ye Newe Chicago Apartment.

I am back from New England, though, and that was a trip that I really needed to have. I got spoiled by the Pony Parents, of course, and I got to sleep in Little Sister Pony's old room, which has an air conditioner. We saw a couple of fun movies (Our Man Flint and The President's Analyst), as well as The Magdalene Sisters, which is very good, but not exactly fun. I think that I'm really glad that I'm not a teenaged Irish girl in the 1960s. We went on an outing with my grandparents, and one of my aunts came for a visit. We saw a minor-league baseball game that was fairly entertaining -- the New Britain Rock Cats finally managed to pull it together against the Binghamton Mets. I also got to spend a day in New Haven with Little Sister Pony. I got the grand tour of the Yale Nursing School, and I was privileged to meet Little Sister Pony's boyfriend. The guy has serious brother-in-law potential. . .

Dad Pony seems to be nearing the end of the book he's writing, and we are all glad of that. I've been curious about this book for a long time, and I really want to read it when it's done. Mom Pony said something that the writers here might find interesting. She said that, when it's all done, it will probably read just like the rest of Dad Pony's writing -- individual, well-written, clearly argued points, laid out in sequence, then woven together faster and faster, until at the end, BAM! He'll sum things up and tie them all together in a final burst of brilliant writing and argumentation. "Yeah," Dad Pony chimed in. "Just like a Bach fugue." Which is the kind of music that he's been listening to for forty years. I really like that analogy, and it seems like the best academic writing does that. I want to write like that when I grow up. . .

Speaking of writing. . .

One of my grandmother's friends has published a book. But she's not just any friend, and this is not just any book. Julia Camoys Stonor, granddaughter of the 5th Baron Camoys of Stonor Park, Oxfordshire, England, has written a juicy, scandalous, tell-all revenge memoir about her estranged mother, the late Jeanne Camoys Stonor, wife of Sherman Stonor (son of the 5th Baron Camoys of, etc., etc. I haven't yet figured out whether Sherman actually got to be the 6th Baron or not.). It's called Sherman's Wife: A wartime childhood amongst the English Catholic aristocracy, published by Desert Hearts.

Julia was estranged from Mama early in her life, and apparently still bears a grudge against her. If you read the book, it's pretty clear why. Mama seems to have been completely crazy. The book jacket describes it as "[e]voking Mommy Dearest and Brideshead Revisited in equal measure." Julia is definitely dishing the dirt here. And, while the writing is kind of second-rate (if she describes one more gentleman's outfit as "bespoke," I will scream), ZOMG is she dishing some Olympic-class dirt!

The Olympics in question, of course, being the 1936 Berlin edition. Apparently, while Papa was off fighting the Second World War, Mama was the mistress of Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and that's just the beginning. In this book, you will read about the right-wing English aristocracy of the 1930s, in a time when "right-wing" really did mean "Fascist." See the half-Spanish aristo bastard adventuress scheme, blackmail, and copulate her way through the greats and near-greats of the era! Experience the thrill of thirty-year vendettas as family entertainment! Ruin your half-sister for fun and profit! Laugh and skip merrily through the Spanish Civil War! Find out what happens when you arrange a high-class dinner "date" for the purpose of oh-so-sweetly informing your "beau" that you know that he is gay (this is when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain), but that, for a certain sum of money, you might opt not to reveal this information to Society At Large. Oh, and, because it's him, you'd prefer the installment plan. One's own lesbian affairs, however, are just pleasant diversions.

The mind boggles. And I'm only about a third of the way through it. It's deliciously catty, right down to its evocation of Mama's speech ("Eff orf, Sherman's borin' brat that you are, heil Hitler and olé!"), and does not even pretend to be even-handed reportage. Julia sent my mother a review of the book from a British newspaper, and the review closed by noting that it's good for Julia that you can't libel the dead. This isn't at all the sort of book that I'd pick up and read on my own, but it's so gonzo that I'm glad I know the author and asked to borrow my grandmother's copy. It's just. . . wow. Words do not do this book justice. Definitely a good way to relieve the stress of packing.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
perelleth
Aug. 8th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
How entertaining! (both the New england escapade and the book!) And I had to laugh at this: if she describes one more gentleman's outfit as "bespoke," I will scream), That's great. I suppose she would be less reiterative if she described men's outfit as "Non bespoke" -these being far less numerous among her acquaintances, one would be led to believe...

It is fun to spend time with younger sisters ( you know mine is almost 17 years younger than me, but we too enjoy doing things like that together, the movies, or going our for a beer or two, or even going on a short vacation together.)

Yet I am most intrigued with your dad's prose, since you've so recently leaked out that he's an economist, and you know, ours is not a profesion noted by quality, careful writing style! And comparing his books to Bach's fugues is delightful and even more intriguing. Does he write about his trade? (that's all i'm going to ask, aware of how you value your privacy! :-)
frenchpony
Aug. 8th, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC)
Little Sister Pony is an all-around neat person, though perhaps gentle and accommodating to a fault.

Dad Pony is only a sort-of economist. He teaches economics, yes, but his actual research interest is more cross-disciplinary than that. I guess he writes about his trade, but his trade is unique, and therefore touches several different subject areas. He does tend to refer to economics as "the dismal science," and has proclaimed in the past about how little economists actually know. Mostly, he's published in academic journals that are not the ones I read, although I did read an essay of his that was published in a book. I did enjoy that. And I know that Dad Pony appreciates good academic prose. When The Book finally comes out, I'll let you know what it's like.
perelleth
Aug. 8th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
LOLOL! That entangled, subtle, ravelled description strangely fits with what I guessed about Dad pony.

I even shiver at hearing it called "science" so seriously by most of my colleagues.. At its best it is a creative toy, something you can play with, a window through which see some aspects of a reality, but not reality itself, as manytend to forget..I think that is why I was first attracted to it... And yes, economist do mknow very little.. and acknowledge even less of their ignirance. (I am not using the first persons only because I no longer consider myself an economist..LOL! I'm just an ignorant in many other disciplines)

I will love to hear about the book when it is done.
frenchpony
Aug. 8th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC)
Dad Pony appreciates Bach, and I think that he tries to make his academic life worthy of his musical hero. Definitely a worthwhile goal. He and the economists don't really get along, though recently there seems to be a surge of young cross-disciplinary thinkers like him. He's hired several of them for his department.
(Deleted comment)
frenchpony
Aug. 8th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
It's juicy and catty and just the perfect thing to read while packing.

The deeper I get into my own academic writing, the more I appreciate what a craftsman Dad Pony is with his words.
dawtheminstrel
Aug. 8th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
Most academic writing is a sad, sad thing to behold. My conclusion is that if you write well, you're half way to publishing even if what you have to say isn't all that exciting. At least you don't hurt the reader.
frenchpony
Aug. 8th, 2006 05:15 pm (UTC)
One of my professors said much the same thing about academic writing being a sad, sad thing to behold. I am reminded of this little incident, and I think that there's probably a vogue out there for clunky, jargon-filled writing that effectively shuts the reader out.
thebigwhitecat
Aug. 10th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
I looked back at the academic passage to which you referred here. It reads just like reading Heidegger! Perhaps the author was imitating the philosopher? Or maybe someone who is not a literary academician but an academic philosopher should take a crack at understanding and interpreting it.
frenchpony
Aug. 10th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
I think it turned out that the author was just writing down his thoughts as they occurred to him. He seems to have become extraordinarily steeped in postmodernist jargon, and no one dared edit that book into something that the average native English speaker could read. But I guess some people like that style. They probably tend to be not much fun at parties, though.
dawn_felagund
Aug. 8th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
Welcome back! For the moment! :)

It's good to hear that you had a nice time back in New England and good luck with the move ahead.
frenchpony
Aug. 8th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

Things seem to be going pretty well, aside from a minor problem with a UPS delivery today. Who knew that getting DSL for the new apartment would be so complicated?
dawn_felagund
Aug. 11th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
UPS. Ugh. Bobby and I have more problems with them. (Well, mostly Bobby because I don't order as much stuff online as he does.) One of the last time we had dealings with them, they didn't hold the package at the facility as asked and instead sent it to the completely wrong address; when Bobby tried to get them to attempt to bring it back, nothing happened. Luckily, the guy to whom it was delivered was nice, drove across town, and found us in the web that is Howard Crossing and delivered it. Sheesh.

Ugh. UPS. I hope that it's worked out for you.
frenchpony
Aug. 11th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
Ugh. UPS. I hope that it's worked out for you.

It hasn't. Yet. Depending on when you start the count, it is either Day Eight or Day Four of the Package Situation, and still no DSL doohickies. The current plan is to have the package delivered to a coffee shop across the street. If that package is not sitting on the pastry counter at 7 P.M. tonight, I will be one angry Pony. I DO NOT want to have to have UPS try to deliver this thing to Illinois.
saadiira
Aug. 9th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)
OOH! Pony is back!

So glad to hear that you had so much fun in New England. That can be such a blast in summer. Also very good to have been blessed with the A/C!

I hope that you love the new apartment. Getting to do some decorating? :D.

It sounds like what Dad Pony has to write is some thoroughly worthwhile reading. The other writing sounds downright JUICY, and, though not my usual fare either, I'm looking at the idea of it and saying..hmm. I might just want to check that out! That is some VERY dirty dirt.

-Dira-
frenchpony
Aug. 9th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
I took a quick tour through the apartment, so I know its layout and a few basic things about it. It will be a pretty fabulous apartment when I get everything set up there. And I think I might get myself a desk and make new curtains, too.

I think that Dad Pony's book will be extremely worthwhile when it comes out. I'll let you know. Julia Stonor's book, on the other hand, is a perfect beach read. And since you're such a beach person, you must run and see if you can find it anywhere. It is indeed VERY dirty dirt.
fafojoy
Aug. 9th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
Welcome back! Glad you had a good trip. Hope moving goes as smoothly as moving can.
frenchpony
Aug. 10th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
Moving itself is going remarkably smoothly. I'm stunned at how much I've already managed to pack. It's really just down to the little bits and pieces now.

On the other hand, UPS has me in its evil clutches once again.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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