Reading simultaneously Elizabeth George’s police procedural The Punishment She Deserves and Anthony Trollope’s The Duke’s Children is a strange experience. Trollope’s world of good manners, complex honor codes, extreme punctiliousness, and a profound sense of dignity that doesn’t depend on wealth is dead and gone.
In The Punishment She Deserves George depicts the world of casual and meaningless debasement where the word dignity isn’t used even as a joke. Her young characters dumbly and repetitively drink themselves into a stupor to have bad drunken sex. Her middle-aged characters drink and drug themselves without even the justification of wanting to hook up. There are no human relationships and no contact of any profoundness. And a murder of a clergyman almost goes unsolved because nobody has been to church and so nobody is capable of noticing an appalling disruption in a service.
But the really funny part is that both Trollope and George wrote about the exact same subject. Both novels depict parents who can’t accept that their children are human beings. Trollope’s Duke is at least trying to not be a total brute to his adult children. George’s characters are not even trying.
So it’s an entirely different world. But it also isn’t.
OK, so I just read through dozens of messages in this local FB group, and people who grew up around here say they never had birthday parties or playdates growing up. Because nobody would come anyway. And people wouldn’t even tell you they are not coming. They’d just pretend the invitation never existed. So you wouldn’t even know if anybody was coming and had to stress out until the last second.
Thank God I’m on Facebook are the words I never thought I’d utter but I just did.
There’s a long discussion on the local FB parenting group about how people invite kids to their children’s birthday parties and then nobody comes. And the kid sits there alone, surrounded by treats, balloons, and activities. And this is happening to local folks who’ve always been here. I’m super sad for the lonely kids but it’s good to know that it isn’t just me. I’m not being shunned because I’m an immigrant. It’s how people around here are.
Klara’s had a great turnout for both of her birthday parties but it took a lot more work on my part than it should.
People are simply grumpy and reserved around here. And it’s not about me. It’s a serious relief, folks.
I always thought there should be more contests for academics that carry a monetary reward and don’t require one to do any extra work. And now that I’m in the leadership of a scholarly organization, I designed and organized exactly the kind of contest I always wanted to exist.
If you are a scholar of Hispanic studies and you have published something last year that has to do with gender, queer studies, or artwork by female authors, send me an email and I’ll hook you up.
I never thought service to the profession could be so much fun.