In an age of distraction, there isn’t likely any other way but to read more than one book at a time. This allows, too, a reader to slip away from a book unnoticed, one that does not excite.
Within moments, on a trip home on the 2/3 last week, I read a passage from Renata Adler’s newly re-famous Speedboat. Very early on, getting used to its rambling, uncentered voice, there was this, discussing the narrator’s background:
“The family was awake and together only at supper, after which Father went to his room and Mother stayed downstairs a few minutes to talk to the children. Twenty hours out of twenty-four, in short, the hush of sleep lay over the house. Nobody thought of waking anybody. Sometimes a stupid child would tie a firecracker to a crayfish or a frog just once and light the fuse. Or give a piece of sugar to a raccoon, which in its odd fastidiousness would wash that sugar in a brook till there was nothing left.”
Fair enough. Woodsy childhood in a silent house = far different than the welter of Manhattan where she now lives.
Then, the bounciness (randomness) of Adler’s narrative voice not quite matching my mood, I switched back to Philip K. Dick’s Martian Time Slip, which I was then 30% of the way through. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, I read this:
(part of a conversation) “No, Don, I’m afraid not. There aren’t any raccoons areound here. You’d have to go all teh way across over to old mother Earth to see one of those amazing fellows. But the point I’d like to make is this, boys and girls. You know how ol’ Jimmy Raccoon takes his food, and carries it oh so stealthily to the water, and washes it? And how we laughed at old JImmy when the lump of sugar dissolved and he had nothing at all left to eat? Well, boys and girls…”
And so on.
The mother of all coincindences. Not only do we have two references to our favorite trash can bandits, we have references to how they will wash sugar cubes away to oblivion (supposedly). Very specific. Also, something I’ve never heard of before. Who have seen raccoons in the semi-wild, such as outside an old ghost-haunted hotel in some of New Mexico’s piney mountains.
THIS MEANS SOMETHING.
RENATA ADLER, WRITER FOR NEW YORKER, ONE TIME SOCIETY PRINCESS, SAVAGER OF PAULINE KAEL and PHILIP KINDRED DICK, METH-FIEND, SCHIZOID PURVEYOR OF SCI-FI JOINED TOGETHER FOR ALL ETERNITY WITH THIS SINGLE, IMPENETRABLE SECOND.
I’m reminded of the ‘lattice of coincidences/plate of shrimp’ bit from the near-holy Repo Man, which is more brilliant(ly dopey) than anything I can come up with, other than the fact that the world is only so large and has so much stuff in it, there are bound to be collisions now and then.