I read a rich variety of books. One I bowled through recently was now 65 year old San Francisco poetess Kim Addonizio’s “Bukowski In A Sundress”.
I’m not a Bukowski fan as this uniquely American genre always strikes me as trying too hard to say aren’t I quite a lad?
That certainly applied to Addonizio’s book which is essentially a lively memoir. Its two underlying themes are first a relentless pursuit of sexual partners and second, of greater interest, despite numerous awards and fellowships, the travails of keeping her head above water financially. The accounts of travelling to small dreary mid-West universities for the fees are amusing.
Anyway, by an amazing co-incidence, from the ever mounting to-be-read pile, the next book I picked up was 93 year old Welsh writer Jan Morris’s “Thinking Again”, this a diary of the past year. What a contrast? But first, if you don’t already know, Jan began life as James and soon made a name as a respected travel writer and historian.
James duly married and had five children until at the age of 46, back in 1972 suddenly decided he wasn’t a bloke, had the chop, pills and whatever and became a woman.
In a recent full page interview in the Weekend Financial Times Jan observed she had just passed the anniversary of now (by a year) living more as a woman than a man.
Asked about her inner feelings Jan made a surprising confession, namely that she feels equally a man as much as a woman.
While all of this is mildly interesting there’s another reason for raising it.
We’re living in incredibly trying times.
Reading “Thinking Again” I found incredibly therapeutic.
Jan lives with her long time partner Elizabeth, now in the early stages of dementia. Her one to one and a half pages daily diary entries, commenting on absolutely everything, from her delight in the minutiae of life in a remote Welsh village, to her love of New York, to her joy in her surroundings, and perhaps most of all, with a long and richly experienced life behind her, and the wisdom of age, of her abiding respect for kindness.
I strongly recommend this easily read book, if, as I alluded to, in these alarming times of the virus, Trump, looming economic devastation and so much more relentless bad news, you feel like a balancing input on the positive side. It will cheer you up, trust me.