Who's asking: Bruce Springsteen, in "Mary's Place"
I still go back to The Rising when I feel bad and baffled about the state of the universe. I've been listening to it a lot this week. I'll turn it off at noon, for the moment of silence to remember the Virginia Tech victims.
Sorrow and hard times get distributed unfairly in this world. The most pointless question in the world is "Why me?", but it doesn't stop any of us from asking it, when we lose the things that are most precious to us. I am far and away the luckiest person I know -- but 10 or 20 years ago, I had no idea that I'd feel this way today. Instead -- if I'd been in a mood to confide, and thought there was a good chance I'd never meet you again -- I might have given you a catalog of everything I'd ever lost.
The thing is, this question has no answer, except, "You just do." Like the singer in "Mary's Place," you gather your friends and your family together and you have a party. You turn it up. You go home and you brush your teeth and you cry yourself to sleep, and you do it all again the next day, and the next, until one day, you forget that you're broken-hearted -- and then one day, you might even forget that you're not supposed to be happy. And then you are happy.
What I Read This Week
Mary Higgins Clark, I Heard That Song Before. Not my usual fare, but I'm interviewing Mrs. Clark and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, for Mystery Bookstore podcasts at the beginning of May. Kay Lansing falls in love with the heir to a vast fortune, who was implicated in a debutante's disappearance 20 years earlier.
Jennifer Colt, The Vampire of Venice Beach. Identical red-headed twins Kerry and Terry McAfee hunt a murderer who seems to be at large in Los Angeles's "social vampire" community. Wicked, silly fun, and Kerry McAfee (the good twin) is great company as a narrator.
Jason Starr, The Follower. This book doesn't come out until July; the author sent me an advance copy, with a note saying that Ken Bruen had said this book does for dating what Jaws did for the beach. I have nothing to add to that; this book is the story of 23-year-old New Yorker Katie Porter, who finds herself the target of an old friend's excessive affection. I'm 20 years past this scene, and it made me reconsider the convent option. (The Sisters of St. Joseph are just up the road in Winslow...)
Margo Jefferson, On Michael Jackson. This book-length essay explores Michael Jackson both psychologically and culturally, putting him in a context that includes the Elephant Man, Tom Thumb, Jackie Coogan and Diana Ross. Fascinating.
Reed Farrel Coleman, Soul Patch. The late 1980s finds ex-cop, wine merchant and sometime P.I. Moe Prager wrestling with the issues of midlife: a stalled marriage, dying dreams, and bad decisions come back to haunt him. An old friend, now NYPD Chief of Detectives, asks Moe to look into the facts behind a punk's claim that he knows what really happened to a notorious drug dealer killed a decade earlier. The search threatens Moe's marriage, his life and his very idea of himself. Moving and elegiac, with enough loose ends to guarantee Moe's return (in An Inconvenient Child, next spring).