Monday, July 5, 2010

In Which We Unplug

Last year my older sister asked me to participate in an Unplugged Day on Memorial Day. I asked her this year if she wanted to do it again, and as we'd missed Memorial Day, we chose Independence Day as our Unplugged Day. Declarinng our independence from electronica, cyberspace, and immediacy.

I almost feel guilty agreeing to these days with her. It's so very easy for me to unplug. I do it often. Nothing good on tv? I read a book or crochet. I never read my email on the weekends. I don't text message anyone (I can't make my thumbs do that, and besides, I'd rather talk for 15 seconds or listen to a voice mail message).  The only thing I missed, and not even that too strongly, was reading the NY Times over breakfast. I am no slave to gadgets.

I unplugged by eating breakfast outside (the temperature was less than 85 degrees Farenheit--gotta' take advatage of that). Then I had a Fourth of July picnic with my friend T and M. No grilling--too hot as M had asked it be a lunch picnic instead of dinner. I served flank steak soft tacos, a peach and tomato salad, and an eggplant, tomato and zucchini salad. The salads were delicious! (You can find the recipes on the Cooking Light website.) M brought a cucumber salad, and T brought over her new ice cream maker and made soft serve vanilla ice cream with mangos and strawberries. My word, how I love good food!

I also read Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James. Well written and erudite, as you'd expect from Baroness James. I do disagree with her assertion that the Golden Age type mysteries are out of vogue. Modern examples that mimic that subgenre may not have the same class and social distinctions that characterized detective fiction in the Golden Age, but today's cosies emulate their structure--amateur detective, closed social and physical settings, little to no blood or violence. Her examples of the best of today's detective fiction were all titles that have been critically acclaimed, and often transcended the genre to fiction. Admittedly she was only concerned with English books (and yea for me, I'd read many she mentioned specifically), but there are plenty of modern English cosies. Personally, my reading and movie-viewing habits have definitely changed since September 11. I don't read or watch violence; I just can't. I don't read anything in which harm is done to small children. Life is very hard out there--I want to escape that when I'm reading. Ms. James discusses detective fiction as escapism at length, but feels the modern detective fiction reader will not accept less than realism. I disagree. Regardless, we both love our mysteries.

Baroness James did, however, make one assertion at the beginning of the book that made me sit up with a start. I quote "But perhaps the most interesting example of a mainstream novel which is also a detective novel is the brilliantly structured Emma by Jane Ausen." She laid out her support for this statement in the rest of the paragraph. It's been about 4 or 5 years since I reread Emma. I think I must read it again with her argument in the back of my mind.

I confess to being a slave to my animals, though.

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