Friday, July 11, 2008

You can't tell what they're going to do

It's not often that a review copy winds up in my mailbox right after I've finished a current read; my life is never that neat. Beth Gutcheon's Good-bye and Amen did, though. I read twenty pages and set it aside-not because I wasn't enjoying it, but so that I could see if the library had a copy of Leeway Cottage, Gutcheon's previous book about the Moss family (the Mosses are reminding me of Salinger's Glass family, some of my favorite people). It does.

So it's good-bye to Good-bye and Amen for a week or so. I'll be happy to remake its aquaintance once I'm done with its older sibling.

Here's just a sampling of why this book is going to be such fun:

Moral stages. We're unclear who invented them. It's amazing how much less we care about things like who gets credit. Anyway, so useful. Stage one is infantile. I'm the center of the universe and everything flows to me or from me. Stage two: you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Or, I'll be good if I can see what's in it for me. Stage three: the group. I travel in a tribe, I want to fit in, I'll go along with what the group thinks is right. Stage four: Pharisees, Sadducees, and lawyers. The hegemony of the Rule Book. I am saved because I follow the rules, and if you don't, you're not. Stage five: outside the box. Stage fives think for themselves and you can't tell what they're going to do. Saints, suicides, Hitler, the Buddha, and Jesus Christ are all stage five, unless they're insane. Behaving without thinking doesn't count as a moral stage, or else it's stage one. Hard to explain perhaps, but to us it seems simple.


  1. Anonymous9:48 PM

    Oh, I'm impressed with your self-control! I like to read books "in order", too, but I don't know that I'd be able to ignore that new review copy and have the patience to get the earlier book from the library.

  2. I love the tone in this one so much that I don't dare mess things up so that I can't enjoy the first as much as I think I'll enjoy the second. (Is that the least bit coherent?) It's not as if I don't have anything else around here to read between now and Monday. . .

  3. I read Leeway Cottage last year and enjoyed it, and I think I am getting an ARC of the new one. I keep watching the mail for it. I like Beth Gutcheon's work.

  4. I picked up a copy of Leeway Cottage this afternoon. I'm looking forward to starting it.


As a reader I cherish the fantasy of one day stopping acquiring books, of subsisting only on what is already stashed away in the crammed lar...