Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Big Storm Knocked It Over.2

All of Laurie Colwin's books are, in some way, about being a pilgrim: about not fitting into the world, about not having roots, about disconnections and the resulting anxiety. Usually there's an attraction to order and community, in the form of a town, in the form of a church (Catholicism is often in the background, and Colwin's main characters are sometimes drawn to Judaism, their own neglected tradition). The funny thing is, religion isn't so much a solution to the problem of being a pilgrim in the world as a way of embracing and living within that phenomenon. I suppose it at least provides you with other pilgrims to have a community with.

In A Big Storm Knocked It Over, nature--things like big storms and falling stars and maybe even motherhood--also points to our pilgrim condition. And yet motherhood, too, is the thing that ties us to the human community and to specific local communities more closely. I see this constantly: people want to talk about the fact that I'm expecting, and I suspect that this isn't only because it gives us something to say and the basis for small talk, but also because this is a pretty universal human interest; it's something that fundamentally unites us--life is about generation and love and care.

Something I noticed and loved this time through is Jane's colleague, Sven, who handles his pilgrim condition through lots of womanizing. He's drawn to Jane in all her stages of newly married, pregnant, and mothering. He finds them deeply attractive and "elemental." I buy this: I think, and constantly tell Francisco, that I am an attractive pregnant woman and that pregnancy itself, despite making me feel often like an old lady with loads of aches and pains, is a sort of vital, alive time.

(A Big Storm Knocked It Over.1)

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