Monday, January 25, 2021

Patchett's The Patron Saint of Liars


I saw a similarity in pattern and wondered if she patterned her Bel Canto after Magic Mountain.  Earlier I wondered if she patterned her State of Wonder after Heart of Darkness.  Thus far, as far as I've read in The Patron Saint of Liars I haven't noticed any literary references.

As to Patchett's worth, why would I decide that before I read her?  I might if it were some sort of genre, or what I fancied to be a genre that I didn't like -- but Patchett seems on her own and that is what initially intrigued me. 

In regard to The Patron Saint of Liars.   Rose is describing her husband Thomas, and  probably leading up to explaining why she took the car and drove off to a Catholic convent.  She says "His sadness was a powerful thing then, and he never forgot it, the way my mother never forgot the Depression and so was forever saving little bits of things that might be useful later.  Thomas said he made a promise to God and even though he never said exactly what the promise entailed, I knew it went beyond to love and honor and obey.  This was a promise with desperation in its origin, the kind of deal that Jonah cut in the belly of the whale.  The difference being that I'm sure Thomas kept his promise, in the years I knew him."

I don't relate to Thomas very much.  He was a man of few words and I am not, but I do recall that when Susan first told me she had an incurable disease and gave me the opportunity to  back out of our relationship, I promised that I would always take care of her.  It wasn't a promise like Thomas's -- out of desperation.  I don't know what it was, but I remembered it.  And just a few days before she died she told me, "you said you would always take care of me, and you did"; in which I understood the nuance, "and now you are free to go" even if I didn't want to.  The day she told the doctors she didn't want to try any longer, I was home with severe bronchitis.  I went back to the hospital as soon as I could quit coughing and she told me what she and her sister and brother had decided and asked me, "are you okay with that," and I said, "not really."  At which she said with considerable sympathy, "I'm sorry."

Thomas could have promised something like that; so why did she leave him?  He was a silent type, and that seemed to be part of it.  But he didn't have strength to go along with his silence.  Rose was physically stronger than he was. 

Thus far I relate most to Rose's mother.  I was also raised during the depression and learned to save little bits of things that might be useful later although I've completely given that up in retirement.  It isn't much of a hardship to be 86 and have a crippled leg.  I can get anything I like delivered to my door.  I can get around as much as I need to -- can even cinch up my knee and hike a bit -- I think I have been equipped to live well during the sequestering and feel thankful when I discover someone new to read -- even if I may abandon her later on which will no doubt happen.

No comments: