Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Busman's Holiday

As you may recall from yesterday’s post, I was without internet service for almost a week, which was a very interesting experience. Combined with the snow, it made for a sense of quietude that was deeply refreshing. The time that normally would go into writing a blog or answering emails or reading my friends’ Facebook posts was suddenly liberated for other uses. I’ve heard that people experience withdrawal when this happens to them but that wasn’t the case with me. No offense whatsoever intended, but I enjoyed every minute of release from daily communication. Maybe it’s because I do so much writing, anyway. Fiesta of Smoke is now up to 850 pages and it takes a lot of words to move a novel that far along!

So in the space and silence that technical malfunction opened for me, I indulged myself maximally. In what? Well, I read, of course! My friend Reggie gave me Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies for my birthday and I dove into it guiltlessly. It was a true busman’s holiday.

The book is a novel based on true events in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo dictatorship. It’s main protagonists are the four Mirabal sisters, three of whom are dead at the opening of the book. How they came to be the targets of Trujillo’s death squads is the meat of the story. Like my own Commune of Women, it is told from the point of view of each sister, by turns. As I am deep into the chapters of Fiesta of Smoke in which I’m having to describe the horrors of death squads in southern Mexico, the book was doubly a busman’s holiday, if such a grim subject could be so considered: not only was I wallowing shamelessly in beautifully crafted words, but I was immersed in the very ambience of terror I am seeking to generate for my own readers.

No idyll of idleness can last forever, however. Mine was a day and a half long. Tomorrow I’ll tell you how this delicious interlude was ruptured by the arrival of yet another unusual animal.

In the meantime, the news from the Billy Whiskers café was all good. Coco the cat was making the rounds of the mostly full tables. Karen gave me a photocopy of a photo taken in 1951 of one of the monuments of our childhood, Bill Taylor, about whom more in the future, and everyone was happy about the snow except another regular, Connie, who declares she’s too old for it.

Until tomorrow, my friends! Enjoy your day; be well; count your blessings!

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