I think it was Buried in Print who said even a page a day to get past that 'I don't have a chunk of time to read this' (and must wait until I do, which means I never pick up certain books) to get back into a reading habit has inspired me to do just that. I love nonfiction, so why am I not just reading a few pages every day until I am once again hooked in a book and don't want to put it down? I have been reading a little every day of Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals and he is seriously cracking me up. And I find that it is just what I need at the moment. A little levity in my life to distract me from topsy turvy world events.
I know I already shared a teaser from this book, but there is so much that is quotable and sharable, that I am going to share a few more excerpts now (on a damp, chilly, very rainy Tuesday). I mean you deserve a little humor, too. I guess it is not surprising that the Durrell's are such a bookish family considering that Larry (the famous Lawrence Durrell) and the young Gerry (this is his book) turned out to be famous writers. There is this marvelous tongue in cheek tone to the storytelling. Even though this is a memoir of the Durrell family's experiences of living on the Greek Island of Corfu, he writes like a true storyteller (which is my favorite kind of nonfiction).
Larry is quite a character (or is it just Gerry's interpretation of him? No, I think he really must have been like this . . .). He is off in his literary world ensconced in a room full of books writing away without much care or concern for his mother and siblings. The family lives in a little villa on the island and Larry informs her he has invited 'some friends'. His mother tells him she hopes they are not the highbrow friends as she just can't small talk about poetry and literature like he can. And he tells her:
"'I don't ask you to discuss art with them,' said Larry testily, 'but I think you might try and conceal your revolting taste in literature. Here I fill the house with good books and I find your bedside table simply groaning under the weight of cookery books, gardening books, and the most lurid-looking mystery stories. I can't think where you get hold of these things'."
The conversation continues where Mother tells Larry he had best put the friends up at the local pension, and of course he says that is impossible as there is plenty of room at their villa. He must write back to them and put them off, but he says it's too late and they are on their way, and sorry he can't quite remember how many he invited but they won't all come and certainly not at once . . . I think we all know where that is headed, right? I mean, Larry is just looking out for his mother.
"'I don't think it's good for us to live as hermits,' said Larry. 'I only really invited them for you. They're a charming crowd. I thought you'd like to have them. Liven things up a bit for you'."
Hah. Yes, liven things up. In addition to the family there will be how many guests? He tries to persuade her that they need to take a larger villa. The conversation they have is a hoot. I can just picture that long suffering attitude of Larry's and his mother's frazzled response!
"'I really think it's rather unfair that you should blame me because your organization breaks down with the arrival of a few guests', said Larry austerely."
"'A few guests! squeaked Mother. 'I'm glad you think eight people are a few guests'."
"'I think you're adopting a most unreasonable attitude'."
"I suppose there's nothing unreasonable in inviting people and not letting me know?'"
"Larry gave her an injured look, and picked up his book."
"'Well, I've done all I can', he said; 'I can't do any more'."
"There was a long silence, during which Larry placidly read his book and Mother piled bunches of roses into vases and placed them haphazardly round the room, muttering to herself."
"'I wish you wouldn't just lie there', she said at least. 'After all, they're your friends. It's up to you to do something'."
"Larry with a long suffering air, put down his book."
"'I really don't know what you expect me to do', he said. 'Every suggestion I've made you've disagreed with'."
"'If you made sensible suggestions I wouldn't disagree'."
"'I don't see anything ludicrous in anything I suggested'."
And I can just picture it. I bet he really doesn't see anything ludicrous in inviting a whole group of friends. I am just now starting the next section of the book where I fully expect a very large group of friends and hangers-on to arrive en masse to Corfu. The Durrells have taken a new villa, by the way, so the adventure continues.
I have yet to watch any of the new adaption airing on PBS, but maybe I will save that treat for the winter holidays. Until then I am enjoying my daily forays into the world of the Durrells and dreaming of going to visit them on Corfu, too!