Detritus


The Photograph
by Penelope Lively

So while the piles of papers hooked me, I’ve not read a book since Olive Kitteridge where the main characters are so very unlikeable. Elaine is a driven, hardened woman–really such a cliche–while her husband is a feckless ne’er do well who rides on her coattails (another cliche!). TV historian Glyn is really Elaine’s counterpoint, and all the while, Kath (we were to assume she was the shallow character) was the lost, misunderstood soul whose gorgeous exterior hid a bleak interior life. Because of the cliches (perhaps) I really didn’t feel compelled to read pell mell, which was sad, considering the summer is ending and reading time will become dear; rather, I soldiered on and finally finished.

But those piles of papers slipping and sliding out of the landing cupboard did keep me going. Glyn’s pursuit of the truth (one, mind you, that he didn’t care to find while his wife was living) was manic–and I thought of dad’s tortured retelling of his early years. He, too, was manic–and also skewed, I’m guessing, every nuance he found in the photos. Glyn did the same, perhaps hoping to find himself the sympathetic one after living years of self-absorption. Hmmmm. Sounds disturbingly similar to dad’s account–and perhaps for the same reason.

Sidenote: Isn’t “detritus” one of the best words in the world? I just love it!

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