Alphabet of Love Serial by Lou Rowan and Alphabetique by Molly Peacock are collections of stories based on the alphabet . But their takes on the adult ABC book are widely divergent. Lou’s J, for instance, spent his years from 20-36 in a druggy daze, whereupon he became a runner and attempted to feign an interest in sports to become a more typical American. Molly’s J is a woman who makes orange jam to forget about being jilted, while her daughter, Jiggle, juggles. Lou uses the letters in the manner of a roman a clé, to mask the identities of real people. Molly embraces the shapes and timbre of the letters to mold an alliterative narrative. A book club would have a wonderful time comparing and contrasting these two works.
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.