Well, while waiting for Middlesex (snicker - I just capitalized it MiddleSex) to be pitched on my doorstep as does not befit a Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, I looked for another book. I read the prologue to The Time Traveler's Wife. And then the first few pages of a chapter.
"Well, this didn't win a Pulitzer," I sniffed, with that tone I have.
Then I remembered that Gary bought a copy of Nine Stories nine months ago.
Then I remembered the conversation we had when he started reading it. He appeared in the doorway and announced:
"This Nine Stories book is really good!"
"Well, duh," I said, in that tone I have.
"You should read it!"
"I read it years ago, darling," I drawled as I languorously painted my toenails. With great care I daubed the tiny lacquer brush into the corners of my big toe, taking pains to distribute the red polish evenly across the nail. "I read it in college. It was during that semester I took all survey courses and read sixty books."
"Are you sure? I can't believe you didn't keep a copy."
"Of course I'm sure. That's the one where Seymour Glass makes friends with the girl on the beach and she keeps saying 'Can you see more glass?'"
"That's the first story! The one about the pedophile."
"Pedophile?" I asked sharply, suspending the lacquer brush above my toe. I looked at Gary, my face expressing both bemusement and contempt. "He isn't a pedophile. There's no pedophilia in Nine Stories."
I sighed dramatically. "He's just friends with the little girl."
Gary clutched his head and left.
I forgot our exchange until I rooted up Nine Stories to fill in the gap before Middlesex arrived.The suggestion that Seymour Glass might be a pedophile came back to me as I read the first story, 'A Perfect Day for Bananafish.' Here is a quote:
'A bananafish,' he said, and undid the belt of his robe. He folded the robe, first lengthwise, then in thirds. He unrolled the towel he had used over his eyes, spread it out on the sand, peeled off the t-shirt that read 'I'm a Pedophile!' and draped it over his narrow shoulders.
Well, it doesn't say that exactly but my God I am a moron. (She said languidly, raising her glass of Scotch to view the computer screen through its golden contents. That is, if Scotch is indeed golden; I have no idea.)
I was shaken that I remembered the first story so distinctly. I even remember my reaction at the end of the story: shock. "Huh! Why would Seymour shoot himself in the head? Well, his wife was vacuous. Next story. Eight more to go!"
Though my confidence was shaken, I decided I should read the next story, 'Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut,' which contains no pedophilia. I also looked closely for lesbianism or something else I would have missed in college. Straightforward. Whew.
Encouraged, I (languidly) moved on to "Just Before the War with the Eskimos." And now, I am truly screwed up. What? The Hell? I can't believe my thin interpretation is accurate: the main female character leaves her friend's house with a new point of view about the friend's home life, or a crush on the brother, or that special kind of crush young girls get on homosexuals such as the brother's friend. There were no adults, so no pedophilia. Still, I have the strong feeling there's something I'm missing.
Seriously, I'm pretty shaken up. I don't know if I can read Middlesex after this.