Lots of Phone Calls, Lots of Dumas
27 July 2002
Well, thanks very much to all of you who wrote or called or sent me something to wish me a happy birthday, and to those of you who are almost getting around to it even as we speak. Yesterday was a good start to the birthday festivities, even if it didn't really go as planned. (Yes, start. I get five days, remember? So do you, if you want them. Take them. Enjoy.)
(And hey, another thing: all you "elderly" people in your thirties who are writing to me that you remember when you enjoyed birthdays, or that you wish you still enjoyed birthdays -- you can. If you can enjoy anything at all, you can enjoy your birthday. Go for it. Enjoy. Nobody in their sixties wrote to me with that kind of idea. My Onie is turning 90 in August, and she's practically squirming out of her skin, she's so excited about her birthday and her party and all of that. If she can have fun with it, what's stopping all of you?)
Anyway, so, not quite as I planned. Right. I tried on my birthday clothes, and they all fit except for the skirt. (You've heard my gripe about vanity sizing before. You don't need to hear it again. Suffice it to say, I will be shopping for a replacement skirt into which I cannot fit large books with me.) I listened to my birthday CDs, and now I have "Bed" from They Might Be Giants' "No!" album in my head: "It's time for beeeeeeed, bed, bed, bed, bed, bed." Only it's not time for bed. It's not even 8:00 in the morning. Ah well.
It turned out that Amber's flight was late enough getting in that we would have had almost no time at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, even if we'd made it there before the gates closed. So rather than rushing through it, we decided we could go today. I didn't know if Amber's schedule would be flexible enough, so I'm glad it will. We're heading down this afternoon. Mark and I went out for dinner and enjoyed ourselves, even without very much garlic. I spent a very large proportion of yesterday on the phone. Had one of those awesome two-hour conversations with Ceej in the evening. Enjoyed one of the scones I made -- I think I'd better make sure I remember the basics of that recipe, because they're quite nice.
I've been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for long enough that it's feeling eternal. But I'm getting close to the end now, and mostly I'm concerned with how Valentine has her name cleared and her stepmother gets her comeuppance. I read it long enough ago that I don't remember quite how that subplot works. And I'm also a little impatient about getting through it and on to my birthday books. It's amusing to note, though, that I'm nearly 900 pages in and starting into the denouement, which will be about 200 pages.
The thing that's amusing me, having seen the recent movie adaptation of this book, is how easy it is to bowdlerize it simply by removing characters. Don't want to deal with 19th century lesbians? Well, what need is there for Eugénie, anyway? And if you cut out Franz, Valentine, most of Madame de Villefort, most of M. Noirtier...well, the drug and poisoning subplots go out the window. And once Mme. de Villefort is gone, attempted infanticide and illicit pregnancies are also, poof, out the window. While these are some of the things in the book that are likely to get parents and/or ratings boards upset, they also make sense as subplots to cut, in terms of the flow of the book. There's just an astonishing number of characters who were condensed or cut altogether, though.
The person who wrote the footnotes for this edition is really snarky sometimes. He labels some of Dumas' passages "showing off," when I think "padding word count" is a much more accurate assessment. (That and promoting his friends' art careers.) And the number of popular culture references is a lesson for people who think that our own culture is unusual that way. With appropriate adjustments for what was popular at the time, of course.
I just love this stuff. I love Dumas. As I told David on Thursday, I would love to read all of the Three Musketeers series and all of Steve Brust's Phoenix Guards series in a row, once The Viscount of Adrilankha comes out. But I might implode from the pressure of all of that language, so I should stock up some short pithy things to intersperse with them. It sounds like a plan.
And so does getting ready to go to the Garlic Festival, possibly stopping to look for shoes and skirts on the way. And so does making lunch. So does working on the novel. What I'm saying is, we have no shortage of plans here.
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