Reading Journal #9 – Thurs. – Fri., 2/18-19
It’s snowing, it’s blowing,
the old gal is slowing.
She went to bed
with her book unread
and was chilled when she woke
in the morning.
We who are not morning people and wake to a lovely snowfall are, in addition to being a bit chilled, also thrilled. Too cold to go out, I am now wrapped in my fluffy robe and, with tea in hand, am in my reading chair doing what comes naturally. This morning I am going to finish John Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV. The what? I hear you say. I’m not really awake yet so I may ramble; it’s what happens to those of us who are not morning people. Yes, Steinbeck of East of Eden fame also wrote a short novel, okay, a novella, about a wary Frenchman who reluctantly agrees to lead the French republic back into a monarchy at some undisclosed date post WWII.
I am between ideas: should this be a review of Pippin or a Reading Journal? Since I am already laptop-in-hand, I’ll go with Reading Journal which is only fair since I haven’t finished the book’s 188 pages. People often ask me how many books in my personal library have I actually read. At last count, according to my data base there are 2,994 books and, safe to say, I have not read them all. A lot of them, but not all. I’ve a nice selection of books by and about Steinbeck, but The Short Reign of Pippin IV was one I had passed up reading. Ditto for The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. The King Arthur book is at least three times as long as Pippin; the choice was a no brainer.
Saturday morning I am off to caucus for my preferred presidential candidate, thus Steinbeck’s political satire about republic vs. monarchy turns out to be an extraordinarily timely read. This particular Friday morning, with Pippin still not finished (I fell asleep – damned fluffy robe will do it every time), I am having a quiet time with a group of writers who meet weekly at a local bakery. This is the importance of political satire, that we writers (The Drinking Writers) should be doing just that, writing and drinking coffee and tea, when in comes Susan Sarandon, in town for the caucus. Steinbeck may or may not have liked Sarandon, but he would have liked news of the caucus, or at least King Pippin would have found it mildly interesting.
At one point in Steinbeck’s story, the King is speaking with his potential son-in-law, an American fellow who is the son of the Egg King of Petaluma (no doubt a nod to the author’s northern California roots). This is serious commentary when the young man explains our American politics: “You might say we have two governments, kind of overlapping. First we have the elected government. It’s either Democratic or Republican, doesn’t make much difference, and then there’s corporate government.” Not a bad observation for a book published in 1957. I am still typing away at Rounds Bakery in Reno NV and we writers are planning to hang out here (no snow this morning) until the next Hillary fan stops by. We’ve overheard that one of our favorites, Dick Van Dyke, might be next. There is life in high desert environs and although I may have awakened earlier than normal this morning in order to get to the bakery by 9:30, it does not make me a morning person. As soon as Mr. Van Dyke stops by, if he does, I’m out of here and heading back to my reading chair to finish the last of The Short Reign of Pippin IV. Tomorrow, when I return from the caucus, I’m going right back to bed, the weather be damned. – Sunny Solomon