Alphabet of Love Serial by Lou Rowan ff. Most letters in this collection of short fiction have their own story. A and B, however, appear together as human algebraic unknowns and X and Y are Cartesian coordinates in a graph of failure and accomplishment. In between we encounter the other letters-characters, their relationships and families, their thoughts and feelings. Some characters reoccur. B comes back as the friend of I’s sister and as the partner of M (I think) , and I, himself, changes from a third person I to a first person I. The human comedy is on display from a cultish religion to tentative attempts to pursue attraction to jealousy to betrayal to utter vulnerability. The story of O depicts what the slide to an alcoholic bottom feels like. Fastidious I disapproves of so much – that one would have a dog (ruining the planet) that Q would offer his kidney to R, who recklessly skips dialysis, or that the adored ballet dancer T would be sloppy with food. Of the many delights that come at you with frequency, my favorite is “I thank God for inventing secular humanism. . .”
Nov 6, 2018
Herb’s Pajamas, Stories by Abigail Thomas ’59. New Yorkers are trained not to wonder what is behind the mask as they pass anonymously by fellow New Yorkers. Herb’s Pajamas tells of the poignancy, humor, and emotion that goes unnoticed in four denizens of a neighborhood way up on the west side of town, whose lives marginally intersect as they go about their business. If they are in any way representative of the millions of lives in the city, then it is no wonder that we are reluctant to delve too deeply. What is going on with our neighbors risks overwhelming us. Walter, for instance, recites Dover Beach , Matthew Arnold’s powerful argument that love can be the antidote for the loss of faith, as a sort of mantra even as the love that sustained him evaporates. Edith, a fifty-two year old virgin, out to buy fish, worries about future memory loss. “Edith wondered what it would be like when she could no longer be sure of carrying the word fish in her head long enough to buy some. As if the word would slip away, swim back to some dark place, some liquid grotto in her brain. . .” Abigail’s language is infused with freshness, and her tender treatment of her characters imparts to them more love and understanding than they experienced in their lives.