This is a test because this blog has been broken and I'm hoping it's fixed.
(Not a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Entirely different thing. That lack of that test is how I know this blog isn't media-capital-m, because I'm not on any EBS listserv. That I know of.)
On my mind: the disappointment of second loops vs. the comfort of repetition. I found a stack of children's books in the hall closet when I was looking for an old Hawaiian shirt I need for a party invitation design. Jamberry! I don't now why that was a favorite but it was, looking for berries, berries for jam, and it all came back, the corner of the green couch, a tiny towhead, all the ancient again-again-again physical comfort.
If I were going to meet your little ones this summer, I would bring them Jamberry and a pail, and we'd go pick blueberries. No stickers or thorns, just pinchable berries. Foraging. Just summer. Maybe get this book until then. Can you live without those rabbits? You shouldn't have to.
So now this is not a test but has become a summer book recommendation post. Why not, they are everywhere out there, these summer lists. I don't know when I'll be able to tuck this book back into the closet. The hat on the goose. The hat on the boy. I guess I'm waiting to someday be a grandmother? Or for a girlfriend with a toddler? Let's have a baby and make bread with jam.
I watched part of Mulholland Drive last night, which is the opposite of comfort repeat viewing. One of the things that happened is I found myself waiting and waiting for the beautiful scene in Club Silencio. Llorando. But I was waiting for something I couldn't get to. I realized I was waiting for the feeling I had the first time I saw that scene, but I can't have that now, this many viewings later. You can't have that feeling if you know about it and are waiting for it. I hope there's a name for this paradox, and that it's beautiful, and that I gasp in recognition when I eventually stumble upon it.
I'm not going to review Roxane Gay's An Untamed State but you can find lots of high-placed reviews if you like. I've read a few, they agree the novel is excellent and they all unfailingly use the word "harrowing" so that tells you a lot right there. Kidnapping, hostage, rape, ransom, Haiti. Keywords say the rest. Brutal, but the truth of the book is quieter than that. I highly recommend it, summer reading or otherwise.
Read it because Gay exacts one of the best illustrations of PTSD played out through a character's psyche that I have ever read. It spoke to me in a twilight vocabulary I can't exactly explain because it's pre- or post-verbal, that somatic survival grammar of the beaten, invaded, damned.
One of hardest-to-bear scenes in the book happens in an airport security line, when the worst is supposed to be over for Mireille but it becomes clear it is never going to be over. The ghost story that shadows the main line is the true terror. There are actually three airport scenes that form a sort of unholy trinity of the duality that is Mireille's truth: the airport experience when she traveled innocently between the split halves of her childhood; with her husband when he kisses the dirty airport floor driving a wedge in her marriage that parallels the duality of her homelands and foreshadows his other limitations; and the After scene, another division between her selves complete as concrete.
All of these layers, halves and wholes, joined and torn narratives are offered with nuance and finesse.
I miss Mireille, so that tells you should read it. I don't know when I'll read it again, but I imagine I will. It's that close to the bone. I read it the first time because it's new, on so many summer lists, and when I read it again it will be for the comfort of repetition. Maybe not of the story because that won't ever become comforting, but of the twilight language of experience beneath it. I felt a strange comfort with that layer the first time, making it not harrowing at all, if that makes sense. I sort of hope that it doesn't. I think you should read the novel either way.