Red Car, after more than 245,000 miles and seventeen years of service, recently participated in two events for the first time: valet parking at a hotel and being in a funeral procession.
When I asked for Red Car at the valet station, the attendant said he had already retrieved it. I saw it by the curb, though I had not asked for it. “We aren’t very good at driving stick shifts, and so we wanted to get it out before the morning traffic.”
In the short funeral procession, I was glad to notice that cars approaching the procession, both in town and on the highway, pulled to the side and stopped, a sign of respect I had not expected.
The Flower Moon. Since tall city buildings prevented our view of the full moon of May, we strolled down a street until our view was unobstructed. There was the moon, bright in a cloudless sky, onlooking the city.
Being a pall bearer was essentially lonely work. I met three of the other bearers just before leaving the church; the other two I had met only once before. I focused on the idea that the six of us were honored for some relationship we had had with the deceased.
Traditions of the funeral: the embalmed corpse, the fragrant spray of flowers, and the beautiful cherry-wood casket lowered into the ground, confirmed my wish to be cremated, my ashes scattered.
Notes on Reading. Fiction. John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces. Grove Press, 1980.
The protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, is a character from Rabelais or Swift, a self-proclaimed genius at odds with the world. His adventures, written as a well-constructed farce, serve to satirize business, Freudian psychology, the police force, intellectuals, and various other colorful character types of twentieth century New Orleans. The writing is fast-paced, and the characterizations are vivid. It’s an enjoyable book.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. Holly Tucker, City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic and the First Police Chief of Paris. W.W. Norton and Company, 2017.
Holly Tucker presents the details of, as she puts it, “arguably the greatest social and political scandal in early French history,” the Affairs of the Poisons in 1667-1682. Louis XIV has appointed Nicolas de La Reynie as the first chief of police. To deter crime, he installs lighting in Paris. He also uncovers groups of poisoners, witches, and priests practicing dark rites. Investigations lead to involvement of mistresses of the King. The details provide insights into frivolity of life at Versailles, methods of police investigations, brutal treatment of suspects and the accused, and actions of absolute power of the King. There are extensive notes and bibliography, a summary of the events, and a useful index.