Archive for July, 2008

I’m not a terribly social person.  I think it comes from moving around a lot when I was younger (I’ve moved over 40 times in my life), and finding a decent substitute for a whirlwind social life in books.  When I have taken the personality assessment tests, I always score as an introvert, and, at parties, I usually end up spending almost half the time playing with the hosts’ pets instead of talking to people.

However, contrary to the technophobic naysayers’ dire predictions, I have found a good, and bizarrely interconnected, group of friends online.  It all started about two years ago when a Nutmeg state telecommuter recognized some of my descriptions and asked me if we were neighbors.  We weren’t, quite, but we did live less than 30 minutes away from each other.  This person, of course, is Emily, and our friendship has grown since then.

Then one day I was looking at cycling blogs and I found Sprinter Della Casa.  The writing was fun, informative, and engaging, and the name was familiar.  I realized that the Sprinter is the promoter of a great race series that takes place less than 2 miles from my house.  We emailed a couple of times, I bought a set of awesome wheels from him, and we’ve hung out at a couple of races.

One day he posted a link to another Connecticut cycling blogger, the Suitcase of Courage.  Since the racing community around here is generally pretty friendly, and not terribly huge, we met each other online and realized that we had gone to a lot of the same races, but had managed to miss each other every time.  Eventually, we did meet IRL, at the Hartford crit.  Later, at the Nutmeg games, a lot of us got together–the Suitcases, the Della Casas, Dorothy, and even Muttboy–and watched the races and ate barbecue.  When he and his wife decided to host a Tour de France party for the opening stage, we were invited to join in the fun.

Now here is where it gets strange and everything comes together.  Mrs. Suitcase knows Emily.  She works for the same company, in fact.  This is the same company that half the people in my mystery book club belong to, and the same company where one of my best students interned.  Mr. Suitcase knows one of my colleagues from the History department, who was also invited to the TdF party.  I’m just waiting to find out that Mr. Suitcase and I are actually cousins or something like that.

On a related note, the Tour de France party was great fun.  The Suitcases are wonderfully warm and friendly, which seems to be the norm for everyone I have met through my online connections (and who said the internet is a mean and heartless place?).  The Sprinter and I amused the missus (Mrs. Della Casa, that is) by the depth of our geeky obsession with the Tour minutiae (we were trying to spot which riders were equipped with the brand new 2009 components and who was still riding 2008 components).  And the Grand Boucle was, of course, exciting and fun to watch.  Valverde’s kick at the end to take first maillot jaune of the Tour had us all at the edges of our seats and cheering.


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Literary Agony

I’m going to write more about this book later, because at the moment I am in no condition to write at all coherently.  David Wroblewski’s debut novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is the most powerful novel I have read in a very, very long time.  As I sit here struggling to say something about it, I am also fighting a losing battle with the tears the book unleashed.  I can’t remember having that kind of emotional reaction to a novel, and at the same time my intellectual reaction to the novel is awe at the power of the language and the deep beauty of the prose.

Perhaps it’s the theme.  Edgar, the young boy of the title, loses his father, and his need to understand and accommodate the conflicting emotional tornadoes raging within him after this drive him.

Perhaps it’s the dogs.  Wroblewski has managed to capture without cute or clever anthropomorphizing how dogs act, and, using that, he has extended his considerable powers of sympathy to dream inside the minds of the dogs.  Almondine, the dog who is, perhaps more than merely metaphorically, Edgar’s soul, presents one of the most beautifully realized portraits of love and strength I have read.

As I have said, I will have much more to say about this book when I have recovered some equilibrium, but for now, all I can say is read this book.

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