Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So, it's been a while. . .

The aliens are with us.
Poor little blog.  Just sitting around waiting for me for over a year.  A lot has happened in real life, though.  We now have three small children--the latest model was introduced in April.  We are living our "happily ever after" in our own home.  Although, no one mentions that "happily ever after" includes calls to the plumber on holiday weekends because your three-year-old flushed a washcloth. Nor does anyone tell you how freakin' hard lawns are to maintain!  My poor husband periodically wrangles our 30-year-old gas lawn mower (that my parents donated to us when they wised up and hired a gardener) out of the garage to attack the mess that is our yard.  We still have no idea what causes the mysterious crop circles or why there appears to be Kentucky bluegrass in one 3' x 3' section of the front yard as we live in Southern California and our neighborhood is awash in St. Augustine.

But, life is good.  Even though the typical gender roles are reversed and I'm the breadwinner while my hubby runs the household, I can honestly buy in to that whole domestic bliss thing.  I cannot say the same for Mr. and Mrs. Bridge's lives--our topic of conversation for today.

Meet Mrs. Bridge.
Written in 1958 by Evan S. Connell, this book is a work of precision, employing vignettes of no more than a page or two which work together to create a portrait of a complex woman. 

Okay, let me add a quick sidebar here--the whole reason I picked this book up is because it's written in short chunks that I could actually get read while potty training my middle child.  Yes, the three-year-old. I'm so embarrassed.

Mrs. Bridge has everything.  A cook, a laundress, three beautiful children, a successful husband.  But she is bored beyond belief.  I don't know how he does it, especially in his era and as a man, but Connell takes aim at the "Cult of Domesticity" myth and blasts it to smithereens.  We see her listlessness and feelings of uselessness as her children grow up and apart from her while her husband operates in a whole other plane of existence (i. e. "the office").  There's a pervading sense of loneliness and isolation throughout the whole book. But, even though she is privileged, mildly racist, and full of inane platitudes--you really feel for her.  This book totally got 5 stars in GoodReads.

Now Mr. Bridge is another story.
Heartened by the fact that I was able to finish Mrs. Bridge in approximately a day and a half and really loved it to boot, I picked up this companion piece published in 1969.  By the end of this book, I just wanted to poke my eyes out with a swizzle stick (because if there was one thing Mr. Bridge was good for, it was a well-mixed cocktail).  Jeez. This guy was such an uptight, stick-in-the-mud.  I was hoping we would be given just a hint of his inner self, the thing that would make us root for him, even though he was firmly planted in white, male-centric, upper middle class society. Nope. Nothing. Not a crumb. This guy admittedly could view things from his wife's perspective, but chose not to comfort or even acknowledge her feelings, views, thoughts, anything. 

Here's the quandary. I own both these books.  Can I, in good conscience, split them up?  Like I said, I loved Mrs. Bridge.  Can I donate Mr. Bridge back to the library?  Or, because they are a matched set do they really need to stay together?  Right now, they are sitting in two different piles of books--a trial separation, if you will.  I can't decide if I'll grant them a literary divorce or send them both to the library donation pile. What would you do?

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