Friday, September 4, 2009

Suds in Your Eye!

For those readers who have been holding their breaths for my home help of various kinds to kick in: a side note.

The college student scheduled to come and keep HP company a couple of afternoons a week went and came off his skateboard at the skatepark, and is, get this, in a wheelchair for a couple of days!!!!!! irony abounds.

But it's no more sinister than a bad ankle sprain, badge of honor for skateboarders, I guess, and he will be ambulating nicely in a few days. Arrangement is still on, as soon as we get it organized. His mother, a close friend of ours, is ready to kill him, but that's not unusual....

Cleaning team, nice Czech couple, scheduled for Wednesday morning, stopped in the other day to meet, see house (brief look around living room, happy exchange of glances, verdict: this fine, no problem, we see you next week).

So far so good.

And now for what's up in the lit'ry department at the moment.

Anyone who has not met Mary Lasswell, now long departed, but a terrifically nice writer, should do so, if you can get any of her works, some now collectible, a few in libraries. I own Suds in Your Eye, hence my current title in her honor, and it's for reading in bed, lovely funny and calm stuff. I found my copy when I was moving books around, a bonus if you find yourself doing this labor.

Although she's a humorist, doesn't claim to be a Serious Writer Person, she is an excellent stylist without making a big deal out of it, never misses, terrific grasp of language that cuts through and carries a rhythm without the "look Ma I'm writing" which is unfortunately true of the next work I plan to mention...

Anyway, Lasswell's novels are set in the 1940s in the western US, I think California, so there's a social realism behind what's farcically going on in the foreground. There's a war on, blackout curtains required, all rental property commandeered by the military, which accounts for how the gang of three gets together, as you'll see.

It's a kind of fantasy for older women for whom sex was terrific but the hell with it now, and whose idea of fun is to live in a junkyard where appearances don't matter, with a big building you can subdivide using whatever materials are at hand, invite your friends to live there, because there are no rentals anywhere any more at prices they can afford, enjoy a beer with them and excellent cheap food, and grow flowers riotously all over the yard.

Suds does this.

There's a gang of three older women, with no romantic strings, just themselves to look out for. There's the owner of the junkyard, inherited from late husband, along with ancient male worker who lives rent free in a little place out back and fetches and carries and drives the truck.

The owner is no mean handyperson herself, very able to invent building and DIY solutions, and her friends, Mrs. Rasmussen the great Scandinavian cook and home economist (prices quoted for the food remind you strongly that this was the 1940s) who escaped from her bitter daughter who was taking her pension, and the third gang member, a retired music teacher heavily into fortune telling, and sweet but clueless, whose rental is being taken over by the military and she's close to homeless.

At the outset, only the junkyard owner lives there with the Old Timer out back, but she takes in the the other two to join their lots with hers.

Their adventures are fun, ups and downs galore, but they never panic, just figure out how to keep food on the table and be sure and have enough for a cold one, too. And dress in bright colors, and wear cheerful beads.

And one huge bonus, when you look at the line drawing illustrations, is that you realize they're by G. Price, whose hilarious animal cartoons you've seen in the New Yorker probably, notably households jammed with cats. He fits right into the Lasswell ambiance. Must be his early work, I'm guessing.

The other book review is a warning: Return to Sullivan's Island, oh gosh, all the mistakes a writing beginner hopes to avoid are there -- telling and telling, reporting not showing, insisting on a fact without letting us into it to find out why, larding with adjectives, no grasp at all of point of view and how to make it work, oh well, need I go on.

I stuck it out for a little while figuring it was satire until I realized, no, this was straight faced. And it's a best seller. Search me why. Anyway, I don't want to put you off, this is a brazen lie, but I think it's a read at your own risk title. And maybe you'll even like it in which case neener neener to me!

For them as is about to celebrate Labor Day, a day on which we celebrate work by not doing any, happy holiday weekend. And if Monday is a workday as usual for you, oh well, enjoy the previous two days..for us, we're eating Bad Food again, to celebrate the holiday.

Hot dogs, rolls, relish, squeezy mustard, beans, potato chips, all bad stuff, great fun on holidays, never around here other times.

Ciao! or chow, as the case may be.


  1. I think we'll have some Bad Food too - pizza! And thanks for the reminder to check on George Price's cartoons at the cartoon bank! His captions are just as delicious as his illustrations. Happy Weekend, Liz dear.

  2. Thanks for Labour Day good wishes - we're having the best sunny weather which is making it festive.
    I remember reading "Suds" many, many years ago,but once you mentioned it, the whole thing came right back to me with a smile. For some reason I thought it was set in Florida, but heck, it must be 40 years since I read it. In any case I remember a feeling of comfort in reading this book. Pip Pip!!

  3. You are sounding fantastically up at the moment Liz. Let's hope things continue so that the whole household can stay that way. Love reading your daily comings and goings. If I can find a spare nano-second I might have to look for your Suds in Your Eye book at our local library, though God knows when I will get to read it.



Thanks so much for commenting. I read all comments with care and much pleasure!