In the High Peaks

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finally, an Adult Book I'd Love to Live In

More than ten years ago, my book group in Boston decided to read Spending: A Utopian Divertimento, a novel published in 1998 by Mary Gordon, who, in recent years, has been referred to more and more often as a "Catholic writer." Oh, heaven help us.

Having read many of her books over a period of decades, I flinch at how reductionist some literary critics and so-called intellectuals can be--yes, even Bill Moyers. If you know Gordon's fiction, she is a novelist of the highest calibre and is a broad-minded intellectual who is always questioning, always probing. Yes, she is Catholic, and has, on occasion, written a book or two that reflects her religious background and orientation. I'm not implying that there's anything wrong with being a Catholic writer; what's narrow-minded is reducing a great American writer to a pigeon-hole.

Spending is fun, especially if you're an artist or a writer who's dreamed of having a patron who makes it possible for you to create--free of the hum-drum, creative-robbing necessity to work forty hours a week to eat. The setting is split between New York City and summertime Cape Cod--Wellfleet or Truro, I seem to recall.

Monica came of age during the women's movement of the early 1970s and is charged with all those sensibilities while also longing and enjoying gratifying relationships with men. She's an artist, she's an intellectual, but she's a woman who loves life, beauty, people, nature, and the opportunity to create.

When I read Spending, I hung on every word, wishing I could live Monica's life. If one word comes to mind to describe this book, it would be LUSH. This is not a religious book, although Monica does interact with sexual representations in Christian art over the centuries.

I was delighted beyond measure when I found a pristine, first-edition copy of Spending at a local library sale. One buck. Precious!

If you would like to check out the first handful of pages of Spending, Google this search string. "Mary Gordon Spending." For me, the Google book spread comes up as the third listing.

All I can say is, Enjoy!

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