Kitchen

Image result for kitchen banana book cover

 

The Narrator, Mikage begins with her most favorite spot being a kitchen, the size, kind, or location not an issue, preferably well used. Even if they’re spattered with food, which Mikage hopes happens to the larger kitchens she may visit, currently though, she leaning on a large fridge, viewing through a window the evening stars. Only she and the kitchen present whilst considering how she would be content with dying in a kitchen. She remembers when her grandmother died and couldn’t sleep, sleeping near the fridge easing her mind. Mikage’s parents died at a young age, she then living with her grandparents, when starting junior high, her grandfather died, and the previous day, her grandmother died, she shocked to learn she was now the last one in her family, after attending the funeral, moving her futon to the kitchen. When she realizes she must move, the list of apartment options overwhelms her, she buckling with the task, but as the days passed by, she is visited by a young man, Yuichi, as she’s glancing disinterestedly at the apartment list, and binding up old magazines with strings. Mikage thanks him for helping her at the funeral, they having attended the same university, and she taking bereavement leave.

Yuichi inquires after her apartment hunt and she informs him of its stagnation, Yuichi then inviting her to stay, he having discussed this with his mother, and giving her directions, setting a time she could visit later. Mikage accepts without thinking too much about it, he then leaving, she recalling Yuichi’s reaction of sadness at the funeral, she thinking he must’ve had a relationship with her grandmother she wasn’t aware of, but after he’d offered her his help there, he’d continued helping her. Then she remembers her grandmother talking of the boy, Tanabe, whom worked at the flower shop she frequented, Mikage sensing he was the solitary sort, since even after knowing him for a bit, he seemed stand-offish. It began raining as she walked to his house, their homes separated by a park, she walking through, and when seeing how high their floor was, considering how wonderful their view must be, she not thinking past their invitation. She’s greeted by Yuichi at their front door, and is hit with the size of the couch before seeing the large kitchen behind it, and loving it from the first viewing. Normally, when confronted with people she didn’t know well, in a different home, she felt isolated, but knowing how alone she already was, put a spin on the situation, giving her new perspective.

Mikage gets straight to the question of why she was there, Yuichi plainly stating how nice her grandmother had been to him and they having plenty of space to spare, the two interrupted by Yuichi’s mother, Eriko rushing in, Mikage captivated by her stunning features. Whilst getting through pleasantries, Eriko quickly changes to return to work at a nightclub, she mentioning how she expected Yuichi to convince her to stay over, Yuichi walked her out and suggests Mikage watch TV for a moment as he rushed out to speak with his mother, Mikage finally understanding what being enchanted was. When Yuichi returns, he inquires whether she’d felt timid around Eriko, she being honest and remarking on her exquisite features, Yuichi confides how she’d had surgery, and had been a man, Mikage at first thinking he was messing with her, but then listens to how his parents met when they were young, his mother’s family giving Eriko a home, he then running away to get married with his mother. After his mother died, Eriko decided to get the surgeries to become a woman and started the nightclub. So whilst she still didn’t know whether to trust him fully, she gave them a shot because she did have faith in their kitchen, the two’s “Buddha” smiles being nice, as well.

When they end their night, Yuichi shows her how the shower worked and gets her set up with blankets, pajamas and what not, she again making certain her staying was fine, he then leaving her to get settled. When she lays down, she’s quite content with the silence, view, plants, and kitchen so close, she going to sleep, content. When she’s greeted by Eriko in the morning, she forgets for a moment of her male genetics, but then offers to make breakfast when Eriko decides takeout would be easier, she leaving Mikage to work the kitchen. Eriko shows her healthy appetite and by afternoon, Mikage is reveling in the slow, calm atmosphere. Eriko then mentions how Yuichi had described her as looking like a dog they used to have (17 Again), Eriko insisting on seeing the resemblance and how amused she was by it the night they met, Mikage hoping the dog wasn’t a Saint Bernard. Eriko then explains how she understood why Yuichi was so attached to her was for this reason, and she regretting not being a better mother for recognizing his aloofness, but he turning into a good person; she recognizing the same of Mikage, relating how hard life could be, but wanting her to be comfortable. When Mikage offers to pay rent, Eriko instead request she make the soupy rice once in awhile, hers surpassing Yuichi’s.

Mikage then realizes upon review, how stressing living with the elderly could be, knowing they could die soon. She recalls how easy the relationship between she and her grandmother was and the times she may have mentioned Yuichi, but even during times Mikage was impaired by drink or love, she knew there was only one person left in her life, and while she was aware of having been loved, the loneliness of her life sobered her to how it was, so she didn’t take long to move in. She showed her appreciation with making food and tidying, still working her part-time job, the three of them working different hours so it feeling spacious, Mikage extremely grateful with how she’d gotten so lucky. When she’d gone to her old home for the remainder of her belongings, she already felt estranged, and as she cleaned the fridge, her house phone rang, she hearing her ex, whom was out of the picture when her grandmother got worse. He called to give condolences, having heard through classmates, they then making a time to see each other. Sotaro’s main interest is plants, he normally outside near parks and whatnot, but due to the winter season, they agree on a cafe near a park.

They have general chat until Sotaro brings up knowing she’d moved in with Yuichi, whom had been slapped by his now ex-girlfriend in school. As they walked through the park she was reminded why they weren’t good together, he not making her feel good about herself, but by nothing he outwardly said, only how he was, they then leave each other on good terms. As she’s watching TV later in the evening, Yuichi comes home with a word processor, Mikage noting Yuichi and his mother’s penchant for pricey electronics. When he questions her on when she would post her change-of-address forms and how she’d rather get it done when she moved for good, he reacts bluntly, but quickly lightens, Mikage again asking if her being there imposed on him, he acting oblivious. They get the forms ready to send out, she learning Yuichi wanted to help for despising spare time. As they continued, she asks about the issues her being there seemed to have for him, he finally catching on and as they worked, she sensed he was quite melancholy, she understanding the issue he’d had with his girlfriend, and if she stayed there, she’d only make his life more difficult, she also seeing how their intimate conversations could complicate her feelings toward him, so whilst making the new address forms, she attempted to convince herself of needing to move as soon as possible.

When Eriko comes in to drop off a newly bought juicer, she remembers a gift for Mikage upon seeing the address cards, Mikage overcome by the thoughtful banana glass (a nod to herself?). Mikage cleared out her stuff and finished cleaning the next day, she seeing the landlord and chatting amiably like she and her grandmother used to do. She was heading to her new home by nightfall and getting emotional about how she was truly done with her childhood home, but then getting cranky when riding a crowded bus, feeling better when seeing an airship. A grandmother and granddaughter sitting nearby, the girl seemingly in a bad mood is unphased when her grandmother points out the same airship to her. When the girl’s grandmother finally gets the girl to smile though, Mikage is overwhelmed by no longer getting to see her own grandmother, she rushing off the bus and crying violently, knowing it was because she hadn’t properly mourned, but she then noticing she had stopped at a kitchen, she immediately feeling better and continuing on her way. When she got back, she announced how tired she was to Yuichi and is almost fully asleep when he’d gone to the kitchen to make tea, she halfway aware of his commenting on how quickly she’d gone down. She dreamt about the kitchen in the old apartment, a floor color she once hated, now loving. She sees Yuichi cleaning the floor and she suggests they have a tea break.

They have an aimless chat, until Yuichi asks whether she was going to leave their apartment, and before she was able to answer, telling her not to, which confused her since he sounded like they’d already begun this topic. He explains how he’d considered carefully before inviting her, and believed being with them is what’s best for now, Mikage conveying her agreement and Yuichi returning to his task of cleaning the floor. They they begin singing together as they worked, Mikage believing she broke the dream-mode by requesting they stop in case her grandmother woke, he instead suggesting they go to a ramen noodle stand at the park when they were through. Mikage wakes up after this, it now two in the morning. Yuichi takes her by surprise whilst she’s in the kitchen pouring water for herself, he also having woken up and deciding to make ramen, Mikage offering to cook it for him and to sit on the couch. When she mentions in her dream he’d also wanted ramen, she notices his surprise, he then inquiring of the color of the kitchen floor, she confirming he was correct, and thanking him for mopping the floor, he then offering to get them both juice, Mikage letting the discussion about the dream lay, knowing they had plenty of time in the future to talk about the shared experience.

One night Eriko is watering the plants when she blurts how it isn’t simple being female, and learning one’s breaking points is healthy in truly having the ability to know happiness, she appreciating the hard times she’d gotten through. Mikage states how she believed she knew what Eriko meant, Eriko then complimenting Mikage’s grandmother for having been an extraordinary lady for having raised a truthful, good-hearted young woman, she loving Mikage for it and how she’d been fortunate. Mikage begins reading the magazine she had started before Eriko’s spontaneous chat, and also ponders how she’d have to move again at some point, she debating if she’d ever come back when she did or would only have her fond memories. She then decides to focus on ‘the now’ and enjoy them whilst she could, also considering how she planned on handling the tough times in the future. She then thinks about imagined and real kitchens she’d experience with many people or only one other, in every place she would live and knowing there would be plenty more.

Eriko was murdered by a crazed regular at her club after the man had seen her walking to work one night. Yuichi phones Mikage to let her know, waking her up and stating how Eriko had taken her murderer down with her, Mikage having difficulty allowing this to sink in due to grogginess. Another blow came when Yuichi confesses how long ago it had happened, he not able to let himself inform her before the funeral, begging her forgiveness. Mikage decides she’d rather have this talk in person and offers to come by (this being after she’d finished school and now worked in a cooking school as an assistant), she then remembering the last encounter she’d had with Eriko being at a store late one night, the two ending their passing with smiles. Mikage dashes through her apartment hurriedly to grab what she needed, finally getting her head together with the items she required and left. On her walk, she starts to get upset, her eyes blurring and making everything viewed in a pretty glaze. She was truly broken by the news though, life not seeming worth living, none of this showing . When she sees Yuichi, she’s quite happy since it’d been awhile, Yuichi surprised she wasn’t furious with him. Instead they sit on the couch drinking coffee, he at first asking about her job, she in the honeymoon phase, then relaying his state of mind being wildly out of sorts around the time of the funeral, he having her in his thoughts, but unable to confess for it becoming too real, regardless of Mikage and Eriko being so chummy.

Mikage handles his explanation by noting how they were a pair, having lost so many people already, she successfully lightening Yuichi’s mood and they proceeding with Eriko’s will, but Yuichi also giving her Eriko’s red sweater which one day she had guiltily admitted looked better on Mikage. She proceeds with reading the letter written to Yuichi by Eriko, she starting lightly, stating of the ridiculous possibility of her death by someone’s hand, but sensing the necessity, she glad Mikage had entered his life since Eriko was the last of Yuichi’s family, this before warning him to refrain communicating with his mother’s side. She then tells how she attempted writing as a man and failed, she then reminiscing about the good times throughout her life, Mikage living with them being one, then ending with what legal papers he would find and to phone the lawyer for further detail, everything but the club going to him. Mikage stayed up most of the night grieving, the two not getting up until after noon. Yuichi readies for school and inquires if Mikage planned on going home, she thoughtfully declaring she would wait until dinnertime, which lights the idea in Yuichi’s head she should make a fancy feast, she wholly into the idea and supplying a grocery list for him to retrieve for her, after he’d gone, she getting the empty-house feeling, prominent after a death.

Mikage treasured the six months she’d had with Eriko, she getting overcome with the empty feeling and sleepiness, but resisting for knowing nightmares would arise, she moving to the kitchen and upon inspection, cleans the place for not being used in awhile. As she made progress, the kitchen duties eased her mind, she realizing she had turned a corner. She remembers how the summer she was with Eriko and Yuichi had also been the one she’d learned to cook. She bought three books which covered all the necessary information to attempt the task. Yuichi and Eriko would tease her because of the flurry of excitement she’d display as she learned, she even finding how cooking made her feel when in negative moods. She realizes she had brought the family together due to how much she cooked, she looking back on those days fondly, then considering how the possibility of beginning the cooking process depended on if the heat was at the right temperature before cooking, believing this affected the taste and look of the dish, they certainly not looking like the pictures in her texts. Mikage then goes over how frustrated she had at first become upon failure of making a dish properly, but how she’d gotten through it, not changing her, but helping her discover her own process. The position of the celebrity cook she’d landed, she believed was acquired by the difference in temperament between herself and the other candidates, especially with only the three month study program (her three books) she’d given herself. The other women not living a life which would allow the same type of learning Mikage had gotten (those three months of heaven), enough to understand risks needed to be made for anything good to come from life.

All of Mikage’s cleaning had passed the day, Yuichi having her help him with two more bags of groceries in the car, he then seeing the moon looking nice, Mikage catching his attempt at changing the subject due to making her help him with bags having nothing to do with the dinner like he’d claimed. As they rode the elevator back up, Mikage came to the idea how Yuichi made her feel content, but unable to make sense of the emotion. Dinner took her two hours to finish, she mentioning how she wouldn’t be able to cope with Eriko’s death all at once, and noting how worn down Yuichi seemed, which is why neither brought up Eriko. After they had eaten all they could, Mikage saw an empty bottle of wine Yuichi must have drank by himself, he then conveying how it did help cause his putting off calling her about Eriko, being drunk for a month and his mind believing she’d hold his not confessing sooner against him. Yuichi then confides all the thoughts he’d built up about how he’d handled his mother’s death and not being brave enough to face Mikage, he then asking if she’d move back, she not knowing if he was too drunk to understand what he was saying, but stating of it on the table for debate. Yuichi brings down the mood with how he could end up becoming stuck in his gloom, she getting upset and deciding they should see how things would go. He passes out and Mikage cleans the dishes whilst she bawls over her isolation. When she is woken by the phone the next morning, she picks it up before remembering she wasn’t at home, the caller disconnecting after she says hello, she then going to work. After she learns she’d be let out early, she was also invited to a three-day research retreat for food, she immediately accepting, which answered her own question of whether she’d be staying with Yuichi. As she entered the prep area, she speaks with the two head assistants who couldn’t go to the three-day research retreat, due to golf lessons, the girls sweet, and Mikage pleased to work with them.

Then the three are visited by the defensive, know-it-all caller, a classmate of Yuichi whom is also in love with him, she attempting to demand Mikage leave him alone whilst also schooling her about how she’d gotten him in a rut, she mentioning how she’d comforted him after his mother had died, and before she could continue her selfish tirade, Mikage starts speaking about how the girl hadn’t even gotten her side of what happened, she feeling bad for the girl having wasted her time for a useless task. Once Mikage had said her peace, the girl left, the two assistants supporting Mikage’s side, she feeling worn down. When Yuichi returns home later, Mikage shares her news about work and planning on leaving to pack, but as he’d been driving her home, she craves some tea beforehand, and upon sitting, she mentions this being their first time out together. When he’d gotten her home, they discuss what he’d like for a souvenir, she burying her face in his arm when realizing how cold it was outside, then leaving and discovering her own jealousy, not knowing whom was “winning”. Mikage then relates a sad memory of Eriko when she was sharing a story about before she became a woman, his wife terribly ill and how he’d visit her before and after work every day. At one point, his wife asks for something alive to be with her in the hospital room, Eriko immediately out and buying a pineapple potted-plant, his wife extremely grateful. When she was about to get worse (Eriko not confessing to her the nature of her illness), she requests he take the plant home with him, his isolation shared with the pineapple, he also coming to his first realization of becoming a woman as he decided against hailing a taxi, after his wife’s death, planning on maintaining a bemused sunniness, he then transitions to become a lady. Mikage figures what she’d meant by sharing the story, she fighting her weaknesses as she tried to sleep.

The next morning Mikage gets a phone call from Chika, the head girl at Eriko’s club, whom now owned it by Eriko’s will. Chika was a transvestite, but quite pretty, he calling to speak with her about an important topic, mysteriously only giving the place they’d meet and hanging up. Upon meeting him at the noodle place, Mikage begins eating and then inquires what was so urgent, he usually exaggerating, but he talking about how Yuichi was acting oddly, usually so austere, but his emotions breaking through, he referring to Yuichi to an Inn since he’d not been sleeping well. Chika then confides his sense of they’re deep affection for each other and she should go after him, Mikage numbed with his deduction. He goes on to figure out what the hold up was besides Mikage’s trip, she relenting by deciding to give tracking him down some thought, Chika relaying how Yuichi’s state of mind needed changing what with his mother’s death affecting him in such a bad way. As Mikage walks Chika out, he breaking down loudly, he also gives her the information on the Inn. As he leaves, Mikage affected with his emotion, but still undecided about her next move, she end up doing nothing about it and begins her trip to Izu with Sensei, other staff, and a cameraman, Mikage reverting back to thinking this was best, the muddled feelings being too difficult to sort.

Later in the evening, Mikage goes to Sensei’s room to ask if she’d be allowed to go get a meal since the Inn served only veggies she didn’t like, she not minding, and once Mikage had gone out walking, she discovering she’d love to be on the road more often, but Yuichi having put too much of an impression on her. When reaching the first restaurant she still saw open with only one other patron, she goes in and gives her order. As she waits, she uses the phone sitting on the counter and dials Yuichi’s Inn, when he answers, he deduces how Mikage got the number, she asking about the food there, tofu being the answer, after they joking about not eating apart, together. Mikage asks about how long he’d stay, she not believing his reply of it not being long, the two hanging up soon after, Mikage’s sense of isolation returning, but once her katsudon was done and tasted, she abruptly deciding to order a second and both made to go, she remembering Sensei had mentioned this place and was disappointed they couldn’t hit it.

Mikage debated her next move, which is again made for her when a taxi pulls up, she getting him to agree to the longish fare, when they get there, the cabbie able to arrive in decent time, she then having to contemplate how she’d get into Yuichi’s room since no one at front desk was answering, it after midnight, and the lights in all the rooms being off, she then sensing which room it was and climbing to it, but getting stuck, and after a few moments, able to pull herself up, but sustaining an injury. Now bleeding and after take a rest, she knocks on the window, Yuichi answering after a minute, disbelieving he was seeing her at first, but once getting her inside, gives her tea whilst she insisted he eat the katsudon she’d gotten for him. Her original feeling of gloom permeated and dissipated with the memories they’d shared. Before leaving, she finally gets her thoughts out about wanting to be with him, but for him to think on it until he felt better, after the two joke about Yuichi wanting to exude masculinity when Mikage saw him, they part. Mikage is next awoken by footfalls outside her door, she viewing the snowstorm which moved in, and getting up when Sensei called. On their final day of the trip, they had a French menu, Mikage taking a walk on an unbearably cold day on the beach, only warmed by a can of coffee (I’ve had one before, heated with chemicals at the sealed bottom, not bad stuff), when returning and readying a hot shower and tea, Yuichi calls, she informing him of the foodstuffs she’d sent ahead, he declaring he’d be picking her up, and so giving him the information of when and where, contentedly.

This was a wonderful story, quite gripping and entertaining. The fact it didn’t really have chapters didn’t make it difficult to read due to the fascination the writing brought. I’m glad I decided to read this on a whim.

Moonlight Shadow

Hitoshi was given a bell which he carried with him on his case he used as a wallet, the Narrator giving this as a token of love, which he would keep close to him until the end (…of the story?). The two were in the same sophomore committee for a field trip, their time together brief since being in separate groups when arriving, they only spending time together on the train. When they’re about to join their groups, the Narrator, Satsuki (annoyingly not introduced until five pages later) gives Hitoshi a spur-of-the-moment gift of the bell left behind by her cat. She was impressed with his sensitivity in reacting to her present, all day the two thinking of the bell and their shared memory, upon returning, head-over-heels for each other. The bell had stayed with them for almost four years through all the poignant moments of their time together. Then Satsuki confesses to sensing Hitoshi’s fuzziness in reality to her, she considering if this thought was a bad omen of the future, it would be quite unfortunate.

Hitoshi was gone by the time Satsuki was twenty, she drastically changed by his death, feeling something terrible must now occur to her because of her instability. Her connection to him involved many major firsts in her life which they were able to learn together, but now she couldn’t stand living for not having Hitoshi. Satsuki takes up running for two months after Hitoshi’s death (Octopus Pie having a similar story when Hanna takes up running after splitting with Marek, more funny, but still sad), she getting terrible sleep with consistent dreams of Hitoshi. Her depression led to feeling nauseous and instead of becoming anxious for dawn to rise, she’d started jogging. During the day, she would distract herself with buddies, she awaiting the day she’d have her eureka moment. Even after Hitoshi’s death, Satsuki still enjoyed the river which he had lived on the other side of, they meeting on the bridge, frequently. She meditated how these times of rest helped her stay sane for the day.

The next morning she is woken with a nightmare, prepares to run, but finds when doing so, brought difficulty in breathing, deciding to push through it. When reaching the bridge and pouring some tea for herself, she’s snuck up on by a lady asking for a cup (presumptuous), Satsuki dropping her thermos over the ledge, the lady seeming friendly and light-spirited, so once taking a sip herself, offers the woman the rest, she offering to replace the thermos. The woman then states how she’d arrived recently from a fairly distant place to view a sight only seen once a century, she then inquiring if Satsuki knew of this, but when being told she hadn’t, agrees to share what the phenomenon was in some time. Satsuki doesn’t wait though, she realizing she needed to be heading back, then Urara introduces herself, she stating of hopefully seeing her again.

Satsuki thinks how strange Urara was, and when taking a second look at her, sees an expression which changed her features, but smiles and waves again when looking away from the river and sees her staring. She wonders about the type of person she could be as she continues on, then Hiiragi, Hitoshi’s brother is mentioned to stepping to the beat of his own drummer, his eighteenth birthday “this month”. When Satsuki meets him after his class, he was in full sailor girl uniform, Satsuki horrified, but able to act natural for his nonchalance. As they order tea, Satsuki notices a movement Hiiragi did, which reminded her of Hitoshi, the two now having a system of making light of it so as to throw away the sadness they felt. Then it’s elaborated on Hiiragi losing his girlfriend, Yumiko the same night Hitoshi had given her a ride to the train station, whilst Hitoshi not being at fault, both of their lives having been taken.

Hiiragi makes chit chat about her running, then suggests they go to a new spot with delicious tempura on rice, after how the running didn’t seem to help her getting chunky. Satsuki knew she’d been actually losing weight, but plays along, agreeing and then explains how the outfit was Yumiko’s, his late girlfriend, her parents attempting to have him stop, but he having a good laugh over it, Satsuki having asked about it and he explaining it made him hurt less. Satsuki realizes then they had a new expression for their faces which conveyed the attempt to bury the thought of their partners. Then Satsuki states of having to let her parents know she wasn’t coming home for dinner, Hiiragi planning on ordering out for delivery for his mother, she saying how nice the gesture was. When Satsuki had first been informed by Hitoshi of his younger brother, he’d specified how his weirdness made him worry whether it could affect Satsuki still liking him, also mentioning how adult-like he acted except around his family, but Hitoshi also stating it was most likely okay since Hiiragi enjoyed meeting “‘good people'”.

Then back to real time, they about to walk to the place across the river, Satsuki remembering she hadn’t seen Urara since the first morning they met, she getting another hit of pain when Hiiragi thought she’d hesitated and offering to drive her back, his kindness dripping of Hitoshi. Then Satsuki shares of meeting strange Urara, recalling the expression on her face seeming demonic and Satsuki thinking it was because she thought she shouldn’t have human feelings, then comparing how minor her melancholy seemed, wondering if she was in store for worse pain. As they neared the restaurant, they ended up having to go through the cross streets where Hitoshi and Yumiko had their accident, Satsuki and Hiiragi becoming solemn and trying to stay upbeat, she discovering how cells could get the feeling of people from the past, not comprehending the idea before, like when tour guides in castles would offer this possibility. She then begins to consider Hitoshi’s last thoughts and emotions, as well as how it would’ve looked at night and whether this night looked similarly. She noted how beautiful the moon was as Hiiragi nudged her to cross the street. They were eating when Satsuki regained a luster for life caused by the meal, she complimenting it so hard, the employee was embarrassed.

One afternoon, Satsuki had gotten sick, too ill to run, she realizing the phone was ringing and having to pick up for no one else at the house. She’s surprised to learn Urara was calling to see if she could meet up, Satsuki agreeing, but also asking how she’d discovered her number, Urara good-naturedly relating how she wanted it, so it came (synchronicity), Satsuki accepting this due to how she explained it. Urara then informs Satsuki to join her at a department store in the thermos area, Satsuki knowing she shouldn’t leave for her cold, but too intrigued, following her gut. Making sure to dress warmly, Satsuki rides her bicycle, noticing the weather promising spring, everyone outside seeming to go about their business pleasantly, whilst Satsuki remained insouciant, wanting her heart to finish the job of breaking already. When she sees Urara, she notes how she looked closer in age to herself this time, when Urara sees Satsuki, she notices immediately she was sick and getting straight down to showing the different sorts of thermoses available to choose from, she feeling much better for Urara’s exuberance.

After Satsuki detected one, they have tea, she then giving Satsuki a variety of tea to break in the new thermos with since a shop owner closing his shop gave away a bunch to her, Satsuki again grateful. She then asks once more about how Urara had come by her number, she divulging more information about how she’d become proficient in sensing them, allowing her finger to choose without thinking, Satsuki wanting to trust this since she felt like she’d known Urara a long time ago, and her nature made one susceptible to accepting her far-fetched explanations. Satsuki describes her gratitude in a strange way, she being as euphoric as a “lover”, Urara not missing a beat and advising Satsuki feel better by the day after next, Satsuki deducing the phenomenon must be the reason, which Urara admits, also relaying the hour to be at the bridge, she asking about what it could be and Urara finally confiding how if all progressed accordingly, Satsuki may see a kind of supernatural sight, she sensing Satsuki had a deep bond with the river making it more possible she’d succeed in seeing it, whatever it was being unique. Satsuki dazedly finalizes the meeting, she then flashing back to Hitoshi and her last time at the bridge being a fine one, he getting ready for a boys night, Satsuki a healthy amount plumper and much more content. When they say their goodnight’s, Satsuki hears the bell as he walks off. She then confesses how terrible their fights could be, the two also having affairs with others, they both wounding the other countless times, but overall their time together being happy.

Satsuki used to dream how she’d stop him from leaving, the memory consistently having the affect of upsetting her and bottling her pain in public hurting more. As Urara and she split later, she was wishing this something did happen, but also soothing herself with the thought of still being pleased by the both of them being at the river, regardless of the outcome. As she’s about to reach her bicycle, she spots Hiiragi, in normal-wear, she thinking he was playing hooky and instead of calling to him for weakness, walks in his direction, but he going off, fortunately in the direction she needed, unfortunately at a speed she couldn’t equal. Hiiragi soon stops in front of a tennis shop though, Yumiko having played, he blankly staring within, Satsuki not making herself known, she deciding she wouldn’t go up to him, seeing the look of a bird searching for its mother on his face, it being adorable, but also feeling down about how his presence soothed her because of reminding her of Hitoshi. When she had first met Yumiko, she couldn’t imagine the hold she had on Hiiragi, she seeming average in most ways, but for whatever reason, she complimenting him in her way. Hitoshi relays to her it was because of her tennis abilities, they watching a finals game, where the two realized Hiiragi was right, and her friendship to the girl budding, which made the events later even more terrible to think on. Satsuki leaves Hiiragi without saying hello and decides to not mention ever having seen him, her illness getting worse. She awakens from a dream again, still sick and debating her run, wanting dawn to break, instead making tea, returning to her room, and looking out her window to see Urara, whom mimes permission to pass their front gate, she nodding. Urara then explains being on her way home from work, noting how terrible Satsuki looked and offering a vitamin C candy and some comforting advice, afterwards closing her window for her, she feeling better enough to catch a few more z’s.

Satsuki gets much more rest, she awaking early in the evening, questioning whether she’d actually spoken with Urara, also wondering if more horrible nights were in her future, she then surprised by a visit from Hiiragi, whom had called, learned of the sickness from her mother and dropping by to see how she was feeling. He then shows her his get well gift of KFC, enough for them both so it being time to dig in. During this, Hiiragi opens up with letting her know of how concerned he’d been for her and to call him if she felt too alone, glad and surprised he’d said anything. Later, she sleeps better than she had been in a long time, the aid of medicine helping, she next waking at the right hour to prepare her meet up with Urara. She still goes for a run, and Urara is waiting for her at the designated spot, she greeting her warmly and warning her what to do as the time neared, she mentioning of their dimension about to change, and not to move or say anything when they viewed whatever they would see across the river. As the sky lightened, first Satsuki hears a bell, then notices Urara had disappeared, when looking back at the river, she sees Hitoshi at the other shore, breaking down, but not saying a word, he waving to her as his image faded with dawn, she again seeing Urara and telling her how worth the experience had been.

When Urara shares of the Weaver Festival Phenomenon whilst they drank tea in a shop, she explains how the vision was produced, she also having lost a significant other, she then mentioning of seeing Satsuki the first night and deciding to extend the invitation. Satsuki then wonders what plans Urara had next for herself, whom she’d seen, as well as still curious about the sort of person she truly was, unable to say anything to her. Urara states how the moment having allowed them to have a second chance with goodbye’s should ease their minds, Satsuki still in much agony over the memory, she finally inquiring after Urara’s next destination and she giving the vague answer of seeing each other again, as well as knowing Satsuki’s number, they parting, and she considering what Urara had done for her. Satsuki is next waiting at Hiiragi’s school to deliver his birthday present of a record to him, when he dashes out claiming to have seen Yumiko, he not wearing her uniform. He shares how one night he’d been woken up seeing Yumiko walk through his door (after opening it, of course) and taking the sailor suit, she then mouthing, “‘Bye-bye'”, waving, and he going back to sleep, the next morning unable to locate the outfit. When questioning his own sanity lightly, Satsuki suggests he start running when getting those emotions, he cracking up. Then from Hitoshi’s perspective, he states of having to be on the move, then giving an idea of Urara being a part of him and grateful of Satsuki waving goodbye to him.

This was an interesting and odd one, as well, but there’s something about Kitchen where the characters hold one’s attention more, connecting with Mikage, and the goodness of Eriko. Overall worth it, quite an easy read on top of everything, too.

Mrs. Dalloway

I had decided to postpone reading The Hours since I’d heard it was fruitful to begin with Mrs. Dalloway due to there being nods throughout the former and I wanted to be sure I would catch them, which I started to notice almost straight from the start of beginning this.

We commence with Mrs. Dalloway going to buy flowers whilst Lucy stayed and prepared for the party, I’m assuming, it would come later. Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is eighteen (which is mentioned in The Hours, but for a different reason) and musing about a phrase Peter Walsh had told her as she walked. It’s June, and Peter will be back from the war soon, they residing in London. Clarissa continues to give pictures of what the city was doing during the day until she runs into one of her old friends, Hugh. He greets her familiarly and she answers his question of where she was headed with why she enjoyed walking in London; Mmk. Hugh, like most of his family, came to London to visit a doctor, he going on behalf of his ill wife who had, it is hinted, womanly issues to attend, but despite which would be coming to her party later, if not a bit late himself for his job detaining him. Peter, the jealous and for the most part, surly type, had a problem with her friendship with Peter, even though he was married, but Clarissa forgave his brashness with being agreeable to walk with her in the mornings; what very simple requirements. She then reviews the right reasons she made in not marrying him and whilst she’d moved on, she felt a little betrayed, it seemed in knowing he had done so, as well. She then considers what book she should give to a woman in a nursing home, Evelyn Whitbread, before choosing nothing and going on her way.

Clarissa then speaks of how she habitually did certain things to influence how people thought of her and her regrets in doing so. Then considering how she’d feel more comfortable as someone else she knew, but currently how even her identity as Clarissa was overshadowed by whom she married, making her Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa then moves on to speak of how much she enjoyed Bond Street in the morning and how her daughter, Elizabeth differed from herself on the enjoyment of gloves. She also describes her daughter’s temperament to those she didn’t care for from church and one woman in particular, a Miss Kilman she felt opposite for, but Clarissa didn’t like a bit. Clarissa then goes on to consider why she felt such hate and believed it stemmed from love of herself overriding any decent feelings toward Miss Kilman. After coming to this conclusion, she reaches the flower shop which would hold flowers for Clarissa when she had parties, so upon going in and conversing with the florist, Miss Pym, she then gets caught up in talking of the flowers and how they glowed by a certain time of day. Clarissa then believes she hears a gun go off, but Miss Pym relates how it must be another car which had gone by, taking the blame for its noise and then noticing how the car having back-fired, was now parked across the street and the one driving, pulling the blinds on the windows before anyone could get a good look at the supposedly important man within. Those on the street were contemplating who it could be as well, Clarissa believing it was the Queen running specifically mentioned errands. As the car moves on slowly, the same reaction occurs to the people on the street, but soon they become distracted by an airplane writing something in the air and don’t notice nor care about the vehicle now going through the gate of Buckingham Palace.

Lucrezia and Septimus, who are introduced earlier as people are watching the airplane, but now revisit them as they are sitting on a park bench, Lucrezia trying to engage Septimus in interests other than the ones which isolate him. She believed he had something wrong with him, but when she brings him to the doctor, he can’t detect anything and have him try to take interest in certain outdoor activities. Lucrezia meanwhile doesn’t feel like she can share her issues with him with anyone, meanwhile Septimus is shown having deep thoughts he wished to put on paper but being interrupted by Lucrezia trying to get his attention per the request of his physician, he only getting annoyed and distracted. To add to both of their annoyance they then are approached by a young lady, Maisie who had just come to visit London and doesn’t get treated kindly by Lucrezia making her wish she hadn’t ever decided to go there at all. A woman looking from afar at Maisie’s experience whilst she is feeding the birds, her thoughts on marriage given and what the airplane in the sky reminded her of.

Clarissa hadn’t noticed the airplane until she’d just arrived home, but hadn’t even been given time to register what it was when her maid shuts the door, then being told of a phone call which related a Millicent Bruton was inviting her husband for lunch and Clarissa hadn’t been invited with him. This news also disappointing her since she’d heard Lady Bruton’s get-together’s were something to boast of. Clarissa’s sleeping arrangement is shared due to her trouble getting to sleep, as well as the first mention of her proclivity for both women and men (not straight out, but clear enough to understand). She relates a story of Richard trying to quietly get upstairs and hurting himself in the process and then reminiscing about an old girl friend of hers and trying to associate the relationship with love. Clarissa mentions her meeting of Sally and how she seemed to be enamored by not only her looks, but interests as well. Her thoughts on Sally are shared, and a time jump into the future has occurred or she had been from the beginning, fifty-two years old and was only reminiscing about her past. Besides which, she felt like she would be told she looked older by Peter or whomever when he returned. She then goes on to think of her party she would soon be throwing and still chafing from her lack of invite by Lady Bruton. Now though, she went in search of the dress she planned to wear later and considered mending it herself since her maids were busy with other things in preparation. Once her servants began inquiring as to whether she wished them to help her mend the dress, she would thank them repeatedly and decline due to they having enough to do already, then revealing whom she’d gotten the dress from and how she wanted, but never would, visit Sally Parker.

Clarissa then stayed deep in thought whilst mending her dress about where she’d worn it and metaphors in reference to it until she hears the doorbell and Peter Walsh makes his way in to visit with her. Clarissa is surprised he calling on her so early before her party, but very glad he’d come to see her since she would have found he’d been back in town for a day if she’d read his letter. Peter also didn’t have long to stay since he was going to the country, but asked of Richard and Elizabeth, also wondering about the dress she’d been interrupted of mending, Clarissa responding by answering half of his first question, catching him up and then making sure he didn’t mind if she got back to fixing her dress for the party. Clarissa then toys with him by confessing she wouldn’t invite him to the party and he asking her why, she wondering why she’d decided not to marry him all those years ago, they then reminiscing of an old home and his visits with her father during the days he wanted to marry her, he now imagining them surrounded by a moonlit scenery.

Peter than contemplates sharing his news, but begins talking himself out of it for not seeming to live up to Clarissa and all the Dalloways’ standards; In the end though, Clarissa asks him what’s been going on with him which gives him the lead in he needs to declare he’d fallen in love. Clarissa taking his being love-struck in stride even though she seems to be a little irked he isn’t referring to her, she asking who the woman is and he realizing she’s an Indian woman married to a man in the Indian army with two small children and he’s just waiting to see his lawyer. Clarissa then realizes how lucky she is to not have married him and focuses on how he’s become love smitten once more. Peter also realizes the trouble he’s in for just trying to get his love divorced so they could marry and this apparently brings him to tears with Clarissa comforting him, but whilst doing this began thinking how she yearned to tag along with him on his adventures soon feeling as if they’d lived a whole life together and she was nearing the end. Peter then asks Clarissa if she’s happy with Richard which she’s saved from answering by her daughter, Elizabeth entering and she introducing her to him, which he then takes his cue to leave, but not before Clarissa rushes after him to remind he should come to her party.

Peter’s perspective is shown as he’s walking down the street with Clarissa’s last words to him revolving in his mind and how he couldn’t understand, but didn’t fault her for her need of the socializing ploy. Peter’s interest in mechanics is shared, moving back to Clarissa and how she’d changed subjects by acknowledging her daughter’s entrance into the room, Peter being slightly annoyed by how she’d phrased it and noticing how Elizabeth must have felt the same, he soon thinking of how Clarissa hadn’t changed temperament since her youth and feeling a bit of a fool about how he’d broken down in front of her, but he seeming to have a penchant to do so in front of Clarissa. Peter than has the puzzling thought of Clarissa’s interaction with him including some sort of refusal, which may have been in reference to her not answering his question, but this all happens whilst he’s getting ready and not seeming to be aware of it, then having a thought as the clock strikes half-past eleven and the last bell tolls, he thinks of Clarissa’s life ending, remembering a physical  ailment she was dealing with and it giving him a spring to his step to get a move on. Peter then considers the possibility of Richard being able to hook him up with a job whilst some young English soldiers pass him on the street. Peter dwells on the soldiers for a while and then considers how no one but Clarissa knew he was back in London and being in Trafalgar Square providing a feeling of being free, giving an impression of his youth he hadn’t had for a very long time. He then spies a young woman whom grabs his attention so soundly he decides to follow her; always a great idea. Peter than fancies how he’d distract from the idea he’s following her if she noticed his presence by offering to grab a drink and she automatically agreeing; Have to love those fantasies. He starts to lose her on the street as it began to get congested, though, but is able to follow her until she enters a private residence, he then remembering Clarissa’s repetitive words.

Peter considers where his family originates and his indifference to the Indian army and imagines how he’d pass his time as he came to these conclusions, he then thinking of his youth and how this was brought to his mind because of Clarissa and how females tended to live in the past more than men. Peter sits down after this and goes back to his thoughts of Elizabeth and her “queer” look and then analyzing why Clarissa had introduced her the way she had. Peter than decides he’ll want to speak with Elizabeth again as he’s on the verge of a nap in the park and seeing him reach deeper unconsciousness. He wakes with a start and remembers the time he’d been dreaming of, it being in the summer in the early “‘nineties” and being deeply in love with Clarissa. The moment he remembers includes Clarissa imitating a woman in an unstylish dress and realiizng a fact which makes her state she couldn’t socialize with her anymore which tainted Peter’s love of her, even though he understood it was caused by her naïveté and the fact he couldn’t stand how she could go along as if nothing had occurred, driving him crazy, but still over-ruled by his love, even though her words would keep him in a funk for some time after. When they sit for supper, Peter than notices Clarissa, he having sat near her aunt, is sitting near another young man and her quirky mistake of calling Mr. Dalloway another name, is their first introduction and Peter’s sixth sense in knowing Clarissa would marry him. After Peter realizes this, they still have a good time socializing at the party, but he seems to be in denial after and must confront Clarissa another day, to be certain of their courtship being over, he not taking it as in stride as he’d done when he’d thought of it. He then remembers the last time they saw each other before coming back to his senses in the park, having the realization of the distractions life gave him to ease his pain of losing Clarissa and watching a little girl’s antics near a pond.

Lucrezia has come to her last bit of patience toward Septimus when a little girl runs into her and she has someone to comfort and after the child runs back to her nurse, Lucrezia considers she must return to Septimus for how late it was getting and needing to see Sir William Bradshaw. Lucrezia then remembers how odd Septimus could get with certain ideas he argued were reasonable. Septimus’ perspective is given as he has some “strange” thoughts and listens to a boy with a penny-whistle down on the street below his room. When Lucrezia comes in to ask him the time, he has trouble focusing on her question, but after being led back to reality he wavers between seeing a dead friend and then going to Peter’s perspective seeing them as he walks through the park and comparing London life to how he’d been living in India. His thoughts then move to a young woman who had married young to a rich man, someone he never would have suspected to do this. Sally being whom he was thinking of, ponders how she was Clarissa’s only best friend whom could see beyond people’s social behavior and was able to call out “bullshit”. Background of Hugh is mentioned, whom Sally despised for reasons unknown and to whom he was married. A memory of Mr. Dalloway being quite sensible is shared, and realizing why Clarissa must have fallen for him and then discovering Clarissa may have the better judge of character than Sally, she also having the ability to immerse herself in her own little world regardless of her actual surroundings.

Through Peter’s musings (of whom I almost forget is narrating due to the prolonged thought process), he settles with thoughts of Clarissa’s nature and must be sure to insist he doesn’t love her anymore, but must be able to explain and mentions how Clarissa would own up to all of her flaws, being a very honest sort (I can relate). Whom the parties are usually for is then related and how Clarissa was a major believer in keeping oneself busy, after getting similarities between her favorite authors and using a metaphor she lived by and also describing her personality quirks which leads in to Elizabeth’s current stage of dealing with the elder friends of her mother. He then considers how the tables seemed to have turned for he and Clarissa, she now being in love with him and his thoughts of what men really think of having to compliment women once they reach their fifties. He then thinks of Daisy, his would-be fiancée and remembers a letter she wrote to him he knew her plan in mentioning certain details was only a ploy to try and hurt him for leaving on this sojourn to England. His reasons for being there besides attending Clarissa’s party is given and how passion is viewed differently in men’s eyes, he then becoming distracted by a strange sound whistling through the trees which makes him consider the situation the person who was making the sound would have gone through, he giving her a schilling before taking a taxi.

Lucrezia has now also noticed the woman and is feeling sorry for her as she’s about to walk across the street. She imagined people knowing of her sadness and wanting her feelings to be noticed, she hoping the doctor they were going to see will be able to help Septimus. A clerk who didn’t live well is visited, but self-educated himself by going to the library and writing to authors for suggestions on books to read (pretty good idea). Septimus’ past is shown on how he’d come to the city and his first love and her influence on his reading and writing. We learn what Septimus had volunteered to do, even though he was being eyed to move up in his clerk position. After losing a friend in the war, he meets Lucrezia whose family owned an inn, he immediately upon meeting her, becomes engaged with her. This is also the time he begins to have feelings of unnoticed panic and having moments with Lucrezia whilst she worked making hats. As Lucrezia is found to have a critical, but passionate eye for hats and outfits, Septimus is starting to become aware of his inability to feel emotion, but other parts of his brain seeming to work perfectly. When he’s taken his old position back as a clerk, they put him on a pedestal and he seems indifferent to their reaction, instead thinking of Shakespeare’s feelings toward humanity and then Lucrezia trimming hats and her thoughts of having a family at some point.

Lucrezia goes on to speak of what sex her child must be and the baby would be introduced to Shakespeare due to Septimus’ brilliant mind and if her requirement wasn’t satisfied she would be come inconsolably unhappy. This subject was the first to make Lucrezia cry since getting married and Septimus could feel no empathy for her loneliness for wanting a child. Septimus’ inability to navigate his lack of emotion pushed him into a deeper state of withdrawal and so Lucrezia calls the doctor whose diagnosis being there wasn’t a thing wrong with him and he may just need some time to unwind along with a few other home remedies. The doctor speaks to Septimus of trying to feel better at least for his wife, since his being bed-ridden was upsetting her and Lucrezia confessing later how the doctor had invited her to dinner, speaking of his four children and how Septimus was feeling abandoned because of her acceptance to the invitation which cycles him back to the idea of somehow giving up his life for the people around him, he figuring it wasn’t quite reasonable to do it for other people’s benefits since he did get some enjoyment out of the basic details of life, whether it be food or weather. When the doctor leaves and is soon called back by Lucrezia for being startled by Septimus talking nonsense to himself out loud again, the doctor prescribes him some medication which will help him sleep.

Big Ben rings twelve and Clarissa activities are mentioned of what she was doing before focusing on Sir William Bradshaw and how he would drive anywhere a patient needed him whilst “her ladyship” sometimes waited in the back seat of his car. She having the time to think of many random things including her husband and son and community affairs. Doctor Bradshaw had come to look in on Septimus as well, determining he could do with some time in the country, noting his behavior and accompanying illness the previous doctor was unable to diagnose. After giving Lucrezia all the information and what would be done for Septimus in his home, they bring the news to Septimus who doesn’t take it very well, but is thrust to accept his transfer of home temporarily so he could be a proper husband and live up to expectations at his work. After, background of how Sir William helped his patients, which whilst giving the patients’ families ease of mind, worked the patients themselves, up. Lucrezia though, not being among the norm in this frame of thought, disliking Doctor Bradshaw with definitive emotion. A digression involving Hugh Whitbread is given and what he did for the community and the reason he would never accept lunch with Lady Bruton, which then led to Mr. Dalloway meeting Lady Bruton on a doorstep.

A meal with Lady Bruton, Hugh, Miss Brush and Richard, is next, she having invited them under false pretenses and deciding when the proper time would be to break her news, she asking after Clarissa to Richard and Lady Bruton being after social and political acceptability more than pure friendship. An explanation is shared of what her question regarding Clarissa would have meant to other women as opposed to men and how they acted toward each other in the few moments they did run into each other. Lady Bruton than abruptly reveals Peter Walsh being in town once more and everyone in the room getting sparks of recognition and Richard seeming very pleased by the news. Lady Bruton  is seen waiting patiently until they are all smoking and has her maid get them papers before trying to segue to her point of the evening, but then seeming never to reveal it and Richard asking whether she’ll be joining Clarissa’s party, she uncertain for not having a taste for parties. When they leave she lies down for a moment and thinks of a memory with her mother and father when she had dirtied her dress and with this thought and of her other relatives, she goes deeper into sleep.

Richard and Hugh are next as they enter a jewelry shop, Hugh once realizing his usual jeweler wasn’t available decided he wouldn’t buy anything until he was in and Richard, finally deciding he would look for something for Clarissa, couldn’t figure out what to get since the last time he bought her jewelry it hadn’t made time as an accessory upon her. Whilst he struggled with the thought though, he became annoyed by Hugh’s conduct in announcing his decision to wait and so departs to find Clarissa. He decides upon arriving with flowers to announce his love for her, which doesn’t happen very often due to the awkward feeling of the process, but once he’d determined his plan, he then notices the lack of policing there was on the streets and how he was gathering evidence for malpractice quite often. He then considers his words of love for Clarissa once he confronts her and meanwhile walks through an area with poor families entertaining themselves. Richard also confronts how he’d at one time been jealous of Peter and Clarissa, but had his mind eased by Clarissa’s mindfulness of what she truly needed. As Richard reaches his destination, Clarissa is seen struggling with the idea of having to invite someone she didn’t really care for to her party and then being distracted and surprised by the late hour and of Richard walking in with roses, he unable to voice his words of love, but Clarissa understanding his unspoken meaning. The two speak of the party later and of Elizabeth’s current interest with a friend whom had just come by, both of them speaking of the visitors Clarissa had and of whom was at the lunch with Richard, he departing without saying the words he wanted to voice, but needing to get back to work and deal with some business, which Clarissa knew and accepted as she rested per Richard’s parting words due to a doctor giving this particular piece of advice at one time.

Clarissa was then aware she was unhappy about something and slowly figured out what it was which upon doing so, was instantly in better spirits since the subject matter was purely to do with others opinions of what she enjoyed, even at the risk of her health. When Elizabeth walks in to see Clarissa resting, her features are mentioned differing from the other Dalloways’ to suggest they had some deviation from their heritage somewhere and how her personality had changed from when she was a child. Meanwhile Miss Kilman, Elizabeth’s guest, waited on the stair and would be able to hear the conversation between Clarissa and Elizabeth, which the latter was aware. Miss Kilman’s background is shared and what she thought of Clarissa and Richard, establishing she taught Elizabeth history. When the two go out of the room and Clarissa is aware of Miss Kilman, Elizabeth goes to fetch some gloves which were left behind and Clarissa has a “stand off” with Miss Kilman over how she seemed to have such a hold on the girl and whilst Miss Kilman claimed to not hate Clarissa, she certainly felt the need to act coldly to her and felt well within her right to do so since she was paid to do a certain job and thought Clarissa was just a rich snob, which she seemed to be in her own way, likewise minus being rich. Before they get out the door, but still not quite in time, Clarissa tries to remind Elizabeth to come back on time for their party, she already out the door and a loud vehicle drowning her out. After Clarissa takes a moment to think of Miss Kilman in her perpetually sour state, she swiftly moves subject to Peter and his seemingly baffling taste in women. Clarissa then reminds herself she must call for some accouterments for her party and remembers how she must have insulted or hurt Miss Kilman with her reaction to her, thinking Miss Kilman may have held her in higher regard than she truly believed, knowing the woman looked at her with disdain, but still considered she must have been affected by Clarissa’s lighthearted response to her.

Miss Kilman is then shown dealing with her negative self-image and how Clarissa had it so easy, speaking of her issues with a Mr. Whitaker. After, they go shopping and have tea, Miss Kilman getting thwarted in having the cake she wanted due to a child snatching it up when the mother and child sat near them, she not taking it well at all. After, they go elsewhere to have tea and when Elizabeth is done, she divulges of wanting to leave, but Miss Kilman wishes her to stay since she hadn’t finished yet, so Elizabeth waits on her and Miss Kilman learns she will be attending her mother’s party and gives advice on how she should take parties with a grain of salt and Elizabeth not caring for them much anyways is then led into how Miss Kilman seemed to have possessive feelings for her. Elizabeth then sits through an awkward statement from Miss Kilman regarding her self pity, but how it outweighed the pity for others. Miss Kilman then goes to pray after Elizabeth finally flees and pays their bill, she meanwhile having a difficult time connecting to her spirituality and thoughts of the people she’d seen during the day which leads us to what Elizabeth was doing; waiting for an omnibus and feeling too exposed to the world as opposed to how she felt in the country with her father. She then considered the profession she’d prefer going into one day and how she’d spent so much time on the bus she may already need to get back home to change for dinner, but not knowing the hour it was, currently.

After Elizabeth has some time for a walk, she realizes it’s later than she believed and makes her way back, having being given the description of what the objects and scenery around her looked like and changing in the light, Septimus seeing the same things. (Which is one thing Virginia Woolf had going on for her, the almost imperceptible character-shifts.) Septimus is shown having those deep thought moments and Lucrezia worrying over him again, thinking back to his sometimes crazy thoughts she was demanded to write down and how one person reacted unfavorably in Septimus’ eyes once they’d read a part. After sitting for a few more moments, Septimus makes a comment about the hat Lucrezia was working on which reminded her of how he used to speak, seeming normal. They laughed over his thought of the hat and then goes about making it look even better by laying out the accessories Lucrezia would need to change the look according to his eye, which she knew was keen to sense certain odd styles. Having this moment between them made Lucrezia very happy, she trying the quirky looking hat on until a tap at the door indicated the girl with the paper had arrived. After Lucrezia returns the girl to her mother and Septimus wakes from his dozing off, he and she look at the notes she’d taken for him and how the night being referred had been so serene for the two it wasn’t fair how they’d be separated just because the doctor said it was best, Lucrezia confiding they couldn’t be forced to obey. Instead of burning his notes, as requested, Lucrezia decides to store them out of sight, since some of them were wonderful drawings.

When the two realize the doctor had come to escort Septimus out, Lucrezia stops him on the stair, but only for a few moments and Septimus, once realizing he had nothing to defend himself with, decides the only decision is to escape through the window, the results of which, aren’t favorable. Septimus is dealt with and Lucrezia is given something to aid her to sleep and then perspective goes to Peter. He beginning by having thoughts of how people act around emergency vehicles for having heard an ambulance pass and then takes himself back to a memory of he and Clarissa on an omnibus and gathering prized items from a certain market and then getting once more side-tracked by her daughter’s entrance until once again thinking of his and Clarissa’s good-ole-days until noting he’d gotten a letter from her and dreaded opening it for all the drama of feelings the two seemed to have for each other. Peter thinks of how he’d, for some reason wanted Clarissa to introduce Daisy if the opportunity arose and then learning his indulgent interests as he goes to dinner. After speaking with a family who he senses he’s completely delighted his presence with, he decides he’ll attend Clarissa’s party for the purpose of talking about the political happenings of India with Richard to learn what the English were doing out there. As he walks out of the restaurant and thinks of various subjects, he gets a paper and then starts thinking how cricket is an interest which is inescapable. Peter than walks one through how most people view parties and how different age-groups act in them and then noticing how the people of London seemed to all being going out to dinner, he then noting certain individuals who catch his eye.

When Peter reaches Clarissa’s house he notices her maid rushing around to fix any finishing touches to the furniture, etc., which could mean an official was coming, as well, but this not being impressive to Mrs. Walker, the cook. As the party was getting started and the men and women separated, Mrs. Walker is followed, whom is stressing about the salmon always being under cooked. As more people arrived, Peter among them, he then realizes his coming was probably a mistake, due to Clarissa taking on the pleasant hostess routine and he not knowing anyone there, now thinking staying in to read a book or going out to listen to music would have been more preferable. Then perspectives are changed a couple times to land on Clarissa’s cousin who felt like her invitation was a second thought since she’d received it late, she then seeing Peter Walsh and how Richard seemed very glad to see him after the latter had come to speak with her cordially. Clarissa is struggling with whether the party is yet a success and her role not feeling important, which was to stand and greet those who arrived, at the moment. Then Clarissa is greeted by a party crasher, Sally Seton, the two acting very pleased to see each other and as they catch up, the Prime Minister arriving and being ushered around by Richard for introductions, noticing how the man didn’t look important, naturally. Clarissa continues with the Prime Minister through the room and greets more people as they come in and when she interrupts some men who are laughing to ask what the joke is, none of them responding for propriety’s sake, most likely, she then overhearing a polar-opposed conversation between two men about Milton and thinking they weren’t hitting it off very well.

Clarissa continues to speak to certain individuals, one being her aunt and then wondering where Peter had gone, her aunt having had many memories in India. When she sees and leads him to her aunt, she promises to speak with him later and moves on to discover Lady Bruton. They speak for a moment until Lady Bruton notices Peter and engages his opinion of India since he’d just been there. After some time Clarissa gets the time to speak with Peter and then is interrupted by Lady Bradshaw announcing her lateness. She goes on to chat with Clarissa of various things until mentioning a young man who had killed himself earlier in the evening and the slow shock of how Lady Bradshaw could be using this as her conversation piece at Clarissa’s party. Clarissa is then taken by seeing an old woman getting ready for bed across from her window and the circling thought of the young man who died and why he’d done it, but not feeling sorry for him because of the party she had going on around her, making her appreciate life. Meanwhile Peter and Clarissa’s other old acquaintances and friends sat and rehashed the past, awaiting her to make her rounds so they could all talk together. As they wait for Clarissa, the round of conversations intermingle and end with Elizabeth being told by Richard how he had hardly recognized her as she was talking with someone, she pleased and Peter then realizing his excitement and figuring out the reason for it was Clarissa having reappeared.

Smooth and meandering story, the kind one would read during travel or at the beach, I enjoyed it more because I’ll be reading The Hours after, but Woolf has such an easy flow I may just have to read a few more of hers.

The Hours

I saw the movie awhile back so the story should be read with fresh eyes. I’ll be curious to see if, as the story goes, I’ll recognize any moments. We begin with a woman walking off to a river, loading herself down with stones, a fisherman within visual distance, but not being noticed as she walks into the water, stumbling and being dragged the rest of the way in, she having terrible migraines and voices only distantly within her hearing. We jump to her husband’s perspective, getting news from the maid being of which his wife having gone out for a walk and would return shortly, he then going upstairs to watch the news and locating a letter addressed to him, his wife remarking of her soon-to-be bad times again and not wanting to put him through the trouble. He rushes back downstairs to ask the maid which way she’d gone, heading in the right direction but seeing no one but a fisherman. We then go back to Virginia’s perspective, she floating along briskly, but not far, getting stuck near a bridge, still underwater but feeling the resonance of a little boy and his mother, he throwing down a stick into the water and soldiers waving to him as they pass on a truck.

We’re then introduced to Clarissa who needs to pick up flowers, leaving to return hopefully within a half hour. She’s in New York and content with her errand for a party she will be throwing. We then learn Clarissa is in her early fifties and feeling as young as her eighteen-year-old self. As she’s walking down the street, Richard comes up to her and calls hello to her, referring to her as Mrs. Dalloway for their similarities in fate, apparently (and current tasks). Richard (who shares a name with the Clarissa of Mrs. Dalloways’ husband) is dealing with AIDS and speaking his mind of what he thought of the day in opposition of Clarissa’s view. The narration of the story also somewhat mirrors Mrs. Dalloway, shown with description of what Clarissa thinks of certain objects and people she sees on the street, her plans, and the attempt at flowing other characters thoughts as she passes (which doesn’t have the same smoothness of Woolf).

When Clarissa is walking through the park and meets another friend, we discern she, like “M.D.” Clarissa, also has a daughter, her daughter begrudging her for her conventionalism. Clarissa invites Walter, her friend to the party in the evening if he and his partner will be up to it and also states the reason for her party and how Richard had won an award. We are then told Walter’s invite could possibly upset Richard and their friend Sally, in support of him because of Walter’s profession and possibly due to his personality when it came to his shallowness. When he leaves, we determine Sally and Clarissa live together (seeming to give the Clarissa of “M.D.” a future she could live rather than possibly fantasize about); I’m also recognizing how Cunningham has long run on paragraphs like Woolf, but because his flow differs, it gives me the feeling like I must struggle to get through it rather than flow with it, regrettably.

We then identify Richard not liking Sally because of her personality and he and Clarissa used to having fantastic arguments, but because of his illness this side of their relationship had taken a backseat. Clarissa then goes to a book shop to look for a gift for another friend and also thought of buying a dress for Julia she wouldn’t likely wear. She continues with a memory from her childhood which gives her a feeling she hoped to discover one of the books could embody for the both of them and then thinks of Mary Krull who seemed to have a hold on her daughter (similar to Elizabeth and Doris Kilman). Clarissa then goes to the flower shop and has another childhood memory before greeting the florist, Mary Krull warmly, after which we get some background on Mary and then Clarissa begins choosing flowers leftover from Mary’s busy week of supplying for weddings and whatnot until they hear a crash from the street (straight out of Mrs. Dalloway). They figure the noise came from the “movie people” who have set up camp in the area and then Clarissa sees a woman come out of a trailer she can’t identify, but knows must be a famous star. We get Clarissa’s interpretation of what goes on between the woman and one of the crew before she withdraws once more into her trailer.

We next get Virginia Woolf’s perspective, starting with how she thought Clarissa’s story should begin and then dreaming of being in a vibrantly green park and awaking with the feeling left by the dream, but forgetting the line she wanted to add to her story, not bothered since she was aware of the feeling it gave still. As she washes her face in the bathroom we are given the same quirk Septimus had, but is now showing in Virginia’s personality, which was her avoidance of looking in the mirror for fear of what it would show. When she then gets coffee and heads for the printing room where she discovers Leonard looking over page proofs and greeting Virginia, asking how she’d slept, and she answering with insouciance. We then learn of Leonard’s cheerleader status of Virginia’s work and how he considered her the most intellectual and surprisingly talented woman in England, he attempting to insist breakfast on her, but she maintaining coffee will be enough, he relenting, but making certain she takes a proper lunch, she consenting for wanting to get straight to work, which she does by retiring upstairs to begin. She’s quite self-aware of how she will feel and if she will be able to get into the right state for a fruitful session of writing, we seeing she was beginning her foray into Mrs. Dalloway.

We then continue in California, 1949 and follow a Mrs. Laura Brown who was reading, but shouldn’t have been for whose birthday it was, feeling she should be preparing breakfast for Dan and Richie, but hearing Dan already downstairs with Richie and thinking she should be, as well. She had started her day late, though (7 am) and was consumed by a dream she’d been having and was aware the day wouldn’t be an easy one for it. We then learn she’s given allowances for her lapses in judgement due to being pregnant. She decides she’ll make up for missing breakfast by baking the “perfect” cake and other tasks. She goes on reading to calm herself and we get an excerpt from Mrs. Dalloway, she then expressing how she would spend her whole life reading if she could. We then discover Dan was in a situation where his identity had been mistaken for someone with a similar name and was believed dead for a couple days, but came back unchanged, fortunately from his military service. We then distinguish how the two had known each other and she seeming similar to Clarissa’s daughter, Elizabeth with her foreign-seeming features in comparison with her relatives. We then continue reading with Laura as she reads Virginia Woolf’s novella, Laura wondering how Virginia came to kill herself when she could write such beautiful sentences, she planning on reading all of Woolf’s novels.

Laura hopes she had some touch of brilliance which people noticed, having fantasies about what others would be impressed with, she leaving this thought and readying to go downstairs, feeling unprepared like she was about to go onstage without proper rehearsing. As she pauses before entering the kitchen, we get a feel for her peccadillo about her husband and reaffirming how she’d contribute to her husband’s birthday. He notices how she seemed annoyed at he not waking her, but they both discussing gently in front of their three-year-old of he not wanting to disturb her only because he naturally woke up at dawn, albeit regardless of she wanting to be able to make his breakfast for him. He then promises to do so the next morning and then begins the rituals of getting ready to go off to work, Laura not as sure of herself when being left alone with her son, straining to keep a steady hold on how to unceasingly act a mother’s part. She decides to continue their day by getting him to finish his breakfast, whilst she contemplated whether her reading so late in the night could affect the baby, having an irrational fear of being told she shouldn’t read, deciding she’ll make an effort to go to bed earlier, cutting her reading back. She then shares with Richie their main plan for the day, she deciding she will do all the necessary tasks a mother and wife should.

Clarissa is then shown walking toward the trailer where she saw a crowd of tourists congregating, she with her bouquet of flowers and overhearing two girls argue whether the woman within was Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep (an interesting choice, now I think of it), Clarissa believing it to be the latter. She uncomfortably awaits the star’s reappearance, but gives up to continue on to Richard’s apartment. When she gets closer to his street she begins to remember way back when on a certain corner where the two had argued over something, she not quite remembering, then reminiscing about the stores, some still from the era referenced being there, but selling items only tourists would be interested in. When she goes into the lobby of Richard’s building, she rates and is repeatedly surprised by the seedy look of it, thinking about how differently the building must have begun. She tries the elevator only to get back out on the ground floor for it not seeming to work properly, climbing the five flights to Richard’s floor, he calling for her to enter and she debating whether or not to bring up the nickname she didn’t feel necessary to continue using, then thinking it wasn’t the right time.

When Clarissa gets in and greets him, opening a blind for more light since his lamps all had low wattage bulbs, she then regards his trashed chair which he refused to get rid of, smelling the rot of it and asking how he felt since he didn’t sleep much those days due to medication induced hallucinations. We then learn a bit more about Richard’s views of life and the people around him, seeing them in a very precise light, Clarissa then making sure he remembers the party and ceremony later, he so fogged he thought it already happened, Clarissa then promising to stay by him the whole night. Richard then voices his embarrassment for what he thinks is a wrongful win of the award he’d be receiving and Clarissa continuing to reassure him, she suggesting he nap before she came back to help him dress, he giving in and she thinking of how their lives would have been if they’d gone a different course than the one they’d lived.

Mrs. Woolf is swallowed by time for two hours and was feeling powerful about what she’d accomplished, also knowing she may not like any of what she’s written by the next day. She reads over what she has, believing it to be acceptable, some parts more-so. She had the hope this would be her finest novel, considering how her main character, Clarissa would die. She then noticing she’d like to write all day, but something stopping her which makes her think she shouldn’t overdo it since it could ruin her progress. She also didn’t like doing anything but write when she could, due to the fear of a “headache” getting in the way. She goes into how all encompassing it is which warrants a better word than “headache” to describe it, but for fear of sounding melodramatic calling it only by this. We learn when the voices are heard during the pain threshold and how once she’s finished with an episode and had rest, she’s ready to continue to write, believing the pain a requirement, but hasn’t made the descent in years, also knowing how swiftly they could return and wanting to be in London if she must return to madness. She then wonders whether to continue writing or break, perpetually being torn by the possibility of being lazy, but she’s reached her goal for the day and considers she should be patient, she having tomorrow to write more.

Virginia walks out of the room and is greeted by Ralph, who was working with Leonard reading proofs and despite the greeting, he not having a good morning. We discover Virginia’s stance to Leonard’s assistants at the printing press and invariably stayed loyal to Leonard regardless of his unfair attitude toward his employees. Virginia indicates needing a walk before helping the two with their project. We then learn of Ralph and Leonard’s traits when it came to their work. Virginia’s next statement taken wrongly by Ralph when it seemed she was coming to his support, she actually boosting Leonard’s spirits, but not correcting his goofy relief.

Meanwhile, Laura Brown is preparing ingredients for the cake whilst admiring a bird passing the window. She then includes Richie in the process, overly proud with his response to her question regarding the number of cups of flour they needed for the cake. Laura is content with her life and family at this moment, making the cake she’ll soon bake feeling on par with those in magazines and other grand contentment which comes from being satisfied with one’s place in the world. She then has Richie play a part in the process of measuring out the flour and depositing it into an empty bowl, the task being performed concisely and uncertainly, but Laura giving him verbal support he’s completing the task successfully. For a moment Laura gives the impression of something going wrong which puts poor Richie on the verge of tears, but she quickly reverses her statement to reassure he’s done his part correctly and asking if he’s ready to repeat the process, he relieved and wanting to try again.  Laura then regains her enduring love for her son and realizes she will want this second child and is glad she’s married (all of this sounding like she’s kidding herself since her life sounds bloody idyllic, the dope. I hope for her sake I’m reading her positive reinforcements for herself incorrectly).

Mrs. Woolf is then shown walking down the street thinking of the details of Clarissa Dalloway’s suicide. She maps out her first love in her youth and her growth into womanhood making her see she shall marry, then considering how to make her inevitable suicide properly heart-rending. She continues her focus on Clarissa’s friend from childhood, deciding to leave the specific details of her death to be worked out more fully, later. As she walks, an old woman brings to her attention she must be speaking aloud to herself again and is prepared to defend herself if necessary upon the old woman passing her, but not getting further reaction she continues her walk. Virginia thinks of her own sister, whom mirrors a habit she’s given to one of her characters and then considers how much she misses London and the reason they had moved to the dull town being for her health, but all the while, wanting to “return to the dangers of city life…”.

Before reentering her home, she readies herself to remember herself properly, not only for her hubby and maids, but mainly for reacclimating herself to her own principles. She then considers the differences between herself and male writers, they seeming to have a particular viewpoint of literature compared to herself and moving her thoughts again back to what will eventually topple Clarissa over the edge. Virginia makes her way down to the kitchen after hanging her coat, in the character she believed “Virginia Woolf” would and learns from the cook what they will be having for lunch, she having the option to request whatever she wishes, but doesn’t, approving of the menu even though she didn’t care for most of what was listed, Virginia mentioning since her sister would be joining them she wanted a specific side with their tea later, the item requested needing to be gotten from London. Nelly, the cook seems to think it may be too late in the morning to go to London if lunch were to be ready on time at four, but Virginia explains the time frame and imagines Nelly is passive-aggressively responding to her. Virginia then relates how Clarissa won’t have these social issues with her servants and their want to go above and beyond her wishes will be affirmed.

Clarissa is then shown meeting Sally at the door of their apartment, the latter sharing of she having a lunch appointment with a “movie star” and had tidied before being off. Clarissa not previously knowing of her meeting, but not holding it against her and wishing her a nice time before the two part. All the while, Clarissa is thinking of how Sally doesn’t look good in yellow and will disclose this to her later. After Clarissa goes inside, she thinks of her ruined plans of she and Richard growing old together and then of how lucky she and Sally were with the apartment they inhabited in New York. She then senses how whilst looking around, she didn’t feel as if her home was hers in this moment. She comes to understand if she were to leave all these bric-a-brac behind, she wouldn’t miss them, nor Sally or Richard, but be able to be comfortable with herself, alone (I can relate).

Clarissa doesn’t seem to necessarily feel repressed, but there is a sense of being content in her apartment by herself, at this moment and then the feeling leaves and she throws away some old flowers and thinks of the plans ahead of her and her contentment in the rituals of her life with her partner. She listens to messages from the caterer they’ve hired, a friend needing to go see a friend who is also ill, and a request from a guest if they could bring a plus-one. Clarissa then thinks of the possibility Sally hadn’t specified her lunch was due to she not being invited (also what happens to Clarissa Dalloway), even though she’s met Oliver and had a personal conversation with him, but she believed her lack of invite was because she may be thought of as only a housewife which didn’t bother her as much as thinking her popularity in the art world and her career were waning; Also realizing Oliver most likely hadn’t passed over inviting her on purpose, but only because he hadn’t thought to extend the invitation.

Clarissa then is aware of the nearby sounds outside as she does some busy work in her apartment. She having a flashback of a time when she was eighteen and believing everything was at her fingertips, but it falling mainly on the house she and her roommates shared (one of them being Richard) and how this had influenced her move to New York. Meanwhile she’s still endeavoring to convince herself she doesn’t care Oliver hadn’t invited her to lunch, then thinking back to her experimental college years with Richard and his boyfriend, Louis. She then considered what her life would have been if she’d returned Richard’s kiss on a significant night, but then realizes to stray too far from one’s principles for love would not be a stable and responsible course of action. Clarissa then shares her memory of the night Richard and she had kissed, along with how they’d spent their time after this day and considering why she’d think back nostalgically to those times was because she was more optimistic and happy then, and the kiss was the only memory which mattered.

Laura Brown is now realizing her cake is well below the standards she’d expected. Nothing was actually wrong with it, but she thought it would be larger and more pretty, the one she looked at seeming unprofessional. At the same time she also tried to ease her own mind, knowing she was being too hard on herself and instead focused on the chores she would be attending to later. She then considers Dan’s responses to the gifts she’ll be giving him and how he consistently showed thankfulness but not ever seeming to truly want something, unfailingly content with what he already had. Laura begins thinking of her comfortable life and pleasant husband, deciding if there was something missing in her life and what it would be. Kitty then knocks at the door and Laura is torn between answering and feeling too frumpy and wanting to wait until she left, but then Richie rushes in and, like an excitable dog shouting about the visitor at the door with happiness and nervousness, she decides.

Laura opens the door and invites Kitty in for coffee after she inquires if Laura would be able to do a favor for her, she seeing Laura’s cake, noticing she continually glancing at it and stating how she thought it was “cute”, completely tearing down Laura’s idea she was indifferent to how crap it looked, the review making her feel her attempt was childish (she must having forgotten, she was making the “monstrosity” with a child; sounds like Laura is riddled with hormones). They make idle conversation and we get background as to how Laura knew Kitty, she treasuring their neighborly friendship, but knowing they wouldn’t have been friends in high school. We then learn about Kitty’s husband and his civil service as well as Laura’s husband in comparison, understanding more as to why Laura had married him, after which, the two making idle chitchat.

Kitty then gets down to why she’s come by, which gives some insight to Laura’s curiosity about why she hadn’t started a family with her husband yet. Laura then began seeing Kitty as someone to be revered and to look up to for her bravery, having customarily blamed Ray as being the issue to her barrenness. Laura then shows her empathy for Kitty’s situation by instigating a hug and then considering how men must feel when comforting women. Kitty then shares of she being fine, but is more worried about her sensitive husband, Laura advising her to let go of this train of thought for the moment. The two then share an intimate moment which Kitty ends first, Laura internally taking the blame and seeing Richie watching. Kitty then confirms the task needing looking after before leaving, Laura stating she’d call her in the hospital. After, noticing her son’s multi-emotional look and wanting to return to bed and book, instead leading Richie to the living room to entertain himself whilst she dealt with making a cake she can be proud of, dumping the last, and planning carefully to avoid another “failure”.

As Virginia helps Leonard and Ralph, Lottie informs them of Mrs. Vanessa Bell having returned with her children, Virginia not expecting them for two more hours. Meanwhile Marjorie is wrapping books up in twine and speaks of wanting to have finished by this time, Virginia hiding her reaction to Marjorie’s voice. Leonard announces of being unable to stop his work at the moment and will meet them at the designated hour if Vanessa waits. Virginia states she’ll handle Vanessa, aware of how unkempt she looked and would have been more prepared if Vanessa had come at the proper time. Virginia resists looking in the mirror, knowing Vanessa would let her know. Virginia greets her warmly and we are described of Vanessa’s features and differences to Virginia, whom is three years younger, but doesn’t look it. Vanessa states how they’d finished earlier than expected in London and had decided to journey to Virginia’s for lack of activities, her sons and daughter in the garden moving a dying bird from the road. As they walk to the children and talk, Virginia notes how Vanessa has the proper air of how one would react to servants and sisters, firm but forgiving.

When they reach Vanessa’s offspring, they begin speaking of how they must save it and Virginia struggling to relate to them, but Vanessa habitually being honest and unyielding when need be, letting them know they wouldn’t be taking the bird indoors and it most likely going to die regardless of their efforts. Vanessa’s daughter thinks of the “brighter” side by spouting the idea of having a funeral for the bird and will sing, Julian reminding her of it still being alive and attending to making a bed for it. Virginia estimates the children’s looks and how they may change when grown, she then offering to pick flowers with Angelica as well as the grass she was collecting. Angelica then was adamant she would locate the nest in case the dying bird had eggs to care for, her brothers getting amused by her belief she would be able to hatch them.

Virginia was suggesting they place the bird in the pallet made, but Angelica insisted they lay the roses in first which Virginia would argue with if her sister and nephews weren’t present. Angelica arranges the flowers, nicely to Virginia’s surprise and then they are ready to have the bird placed in the middle, Quentin undertaking the task as Virginia remembers when Julian had no longer seemed like a child and Angelica getting bored with her game now she’s designed the deathbed. Virginia realizes the bird had died on it’s wait to be placed on its final resting place and the group moves indoors for early tea. As she watches her sister and nephew walk inside, she contemplates wanting to change places with the bird so she could lay in the bed of roses and how the nest looked like it could be a hat, then considering Clarissa’s role as no longer being thought of as the bride of death, but the bed.

We then see Clarissa organizing a vase of flowers and confirming to herself of striving to give the best party she could to Richard and looking out for his comfort at the party. She then hears her apartment buzzer go off and goes to investigate who could be ringing, discovering it was Louis and letting him up. She delightedly awaits he showing up at the door, hoping he brings good news and had named the particular feeling he gave her after him whilst she waited. When he turns up, they greet warmly and he gets emotional as he shares when he had arrived in town and Clarissa updating him as to his good timing for Richard’s upcoming party. As she invites him inside, Louis is noticing how she had finally reached the stage of no longer having retained her youthful look and how it was like a small victory for him considering all the time she had gotten with Richard and how he’d written a novel focusing on a character based on Clarissa, but representing her of only complaining about love, regardless of all the years Richard and he had spent together, seeming a bit bitter about the reference he’d received.

After sitting down and making small talk about where Louis was staying, they voice how appreciative they are to see each other, Clarissa offering him a drink, and he noticing how she still maintained her infuriating qualities, then surveying Clarissa’s home and thinking how unlike her style it was and it must having been caused by her partner, Sally. When Clarissa reenters with the waters in hand, Louis realizes despite her obvious dissent in to old age, she still had her charm and style which drew him to her. She remarks upon sitting, how he could stay away for five years, he not saying he’d actually been back more than a few times during those years, but instead commenting on he deciding to stay in New York and wanting to uncover an “honest” job, teaching not cutting it. He then remarks the oddness of Richard’s book, after Clarissa warns him of Richard’s looks having changed and he needing to prepare himself. After his rash decision of Clarissa seeming to have lost her loveliness, he changes his tune whilst they discuss his opinion of Richard’s book and its surprise ending. Clarissa then notifies Louis to keep in mind of Richard’s condition, he maintaining some part of himself, but being a bit more loopy now.

Clarissa then flashes back to a fond memory she had with Louis and Richard after sharing the spot she wanted her ashes to be scattered. Louis then reminiscing about a day where he’d gone back to their college home before moving to California and how the house remained unchanged, Clarissa admitting she’d like to see the house herself again sometime, Louis agreeing it was a good idea if she wanted her ashes scattered there. Clarissa then confesses she didn’t actually mean what she’d said and the summer was the cause of her morbidity. When Clarissa touches Louis’ shoulder, we are given a strange comparison of the two seeming like gladiators (Michael Cunningham certainly came up with some strange metaphors and fantasies to give voice through his characters). Louis then confides he’d fallen in love with one of his students from the previous year and Clarissa immediately goes into her same reaction of wanting to shake him to his senses, Louis explaining the young man’s talent. After reiterating his declaration of love, he begins to weep, even to his own surprise, and only admitting to himself he didn’t actually love him and wouldn’t miss him when he left. As Clarissa comforts him she considers her own relationship and how they at no time truly fought in their eighteen-year relationship, she longing to be in an exciting and not so stable circumstance.

Louis stands and walks to her window whilst now weeping for not only his infatuation, but also his friends and their misfortunes, his train of thought being interrupted by Julia, Clarissa’s daughter coming in and he exerting to get a hold of himself, she greeting him formally and he noting how she’d consistently had a seriousness and quirky way since her youth. When Louis turns to greet her in return, he evaluates how she’d changed since the last time he’d seen her, she growing into herself and obtaining a measured confidence, not beautiful, but “handsome”. Louis decides to leave at this moment, Clarissa making sure he’ll return to the party (the same way Clarissa Dalloway had) and he agreeing he would. We then perceive he had an attraction to Julia he couldn’t explain and wasn’t in accordance to his sexuality and fantasized how they would flee this place together. As he leaves Clarissa’s building, he notices the variety of people along the street as he remembered the days when he’d been with Richard and how their relationship ended and the freedom he felt after.

Laura is found driving along a highway where a fire had recently started and feeling as if she was driving in a dream. We then get back story as to why she’s driving and how it was due to an unsettled, seemingly depressive state of mind, so she dropped Richie off with a neighbor with the excuse of picking up something needed for her husband’s birthday, then instead, deciding to go driving around (since the book reading wasn’t cutting it). Laura convinced herself since she’d completed all necessary tasks for the upcoming birthday party, she deserved some time alone to pursue reading her copy of Mrs. Dalloway without interruption. She thinks about the new cake (which still disappoints her), but is an improvement from the first and then lingering on the thought of her kiss shared with Kitty and the desire behind her thoughts. It now seems like Laura is suppressing her same-sex inclinations by being devoted and still loving her husband, but she moves on to thoughts about why she believed her cake was still labeled as an amateur attempt. She then considers how much time she’ll have to herself before having to return to her life and then has to decide which direction she wanted to go in, debating where she could ferret out a place to quietly read and deciding she’ll splurge on a hotel only so she could sit and read for a couple of hours in peace.

Laura checks in to a hotel which she knows is populated by businessmen and tourists and comes up with a viable excuse as to the absence of any luggage; lying for the first time to someone she didn’t care about (strangely). The attendant doesn’t suspect anything though and Laura gets her key easily. She makes her way to her room, she noticing the quirks of the hotel environment and not yet losing her nervous energy, it only having been moved to a dissociative level. When she sees her unsurprisingly plain room and looks through her window, she again gets a dream-like quality and so lies on the bed, not reading her book yet, but relating to the character of Clarissa Dalloway and how she had felt. After getting comfortable she begins to read, we getting an excerpt of Mrs. Dalloway where Clarissa remembers a time when she’d made a wish, and her thoughts on death. Reading this then made Laura consider how it could be easy to release herself from her life and how her family would react to her absence and then realizing how she loved life too much to do such a thing to her family or herself and how easy it must have been for Virginia Woolf to come to her decision.

Virginia is shown in the kitchen with her sister drinking tea and discussing Vanessa’s daughter not considering a coat a gift, of which she was referring to one at Harrod’s she thought was perfect for her, but felt bad about getting it for her since there wasn’t anything for the boys, believing she could have given the coat to Angelica for her birthday, but she being too young to accept it as a viable gifting option. Virginia is weighing what advice she’d share with her sister whilst also figuring whom should actually commit suicide in her story, no longer believing Clarissa was the right character to do so, and as she’s about to speak, Nelly walks in with the requested china and sugared ginger requested for their tea, Virginia changing her moment to instead kiss her sister. (It seems moments of intimacy should repeatedly be shown with the possibility of sexuality, this moment no different than the others.)

Meanwhile Julia is voicing empathy for Louis’ situation, Clarissa wanting to be him at this moment for having a particular freedom she didn’t. She then thinks of the possibility of he ruining the night for Richard on top of regretting the invite to Walter Hardy. Clarissa then requesting a hug from her daughter and inquiring after her, hoping it didn’t inspire annoyance like it had with her own mother. We are then given the reasons why Clarissa asks after Julia, she believing Richard would not enjoy the party and believing her daughter would speak ill of her to her buddies. Clarissa then tries to make herself feel better with the thought of helping Julia’s self-esteem. (And again, like Mrs. Dalloway, Mary Krull isn’t liked and was awaiting Julia outside for their shopping outing.)

When Clarissa is informed of this, she asks why she hadn’t come up to say, “Hi.”, Julia then showing she didn’t want to oblige, but would since Clarissa was now declining and “releasing” her to Mary, she fetching Mary and upon Clarissa seeing her, sharing the image of a ragged stray a child would bring home in hopes of adopting, Mary’s appearance being grungy, bald, and over forty years of age. Mary and Clarissa go through the normal pleasantries, Mary letting loose with some true feelings she had toward store clerks and the shopping experience in general, after which Julia decides it’s time to go, we getting an inside look of what’s going on inside Clarissa and Mary’s heads, the two snubbing their noses at one another and their ways of life in the Lesbian community. We are then made sure to be aware of Julia’s sexuality and Clarissa wondering if Julia had befriended Mary in lieu of a father figure. We are then shown Mary’s pain of being permanently in the friend zone as Julia urges her to hurry to their task of boot-hunting.

Vanessa has left and Nelly is unnaturally upbeat in Virginia’s eyes, whilst she thinks and fears her novel won’t evoke the emotion desired. Virginia continues to ventures to convince herself she’s satisfied with the night ahead of her and her work tomorrow. She then tricks herself into thinking a headache was coming, but nothing more occurs to support her paranoia and decides a walk is needed. She’s then hit with the thought of being in the dead bird’s territory and a comforting feeling of death is about her, she then thinking what will soon be done with the bird which still laid in its nest of roses. Virginia thought how death made one smaller and reduced a life’s value once it had left the body, essentially the body being waste and any thoughts otherwise was for the delicate eyes and ears of children. Virginia begins in the direction of town, seeing people along the way before deciding she was going into town and didn’t yet know the reason. Virginia then intermittently overhears a couple whom upon the lady hearing a question which makes her react with delight, Virginia goes off and has the thought of being alone and what this will eventually mean, it being described as the devil and the feeling, like a shadow of the headache haunting her and making her react as one would with undertaking to ignore it by not turning around.

Virginia then makes a split decision to take the train to London since shops were already closing in town and she’d rather be walking the London streets. When she reaches the station, though and realizes she had over twenty minutes to wait, she wonders the conversation she’d have with Leonard and his reasons for she not going to London, Virginia knowing his words would be mostly true, but also knowing she was bored to pieces and this wasn’t helping her either. She makes her decision, buys her ticket, and after waiting as long as she could stand, decides to walk around until her train arrives, on her way, running into Leonard, whom she greets jokingly formally. Leonard revealing his worry of not discovering her and feeling as if something being amiss, Virginia not confessing to him of her extended plan and feeling sorry for him; men being so fragile and all. Virginia then voices her want of the two of them to move back to London, he agreeing to discuss it over dinner and wishing she could accustom herself to small city life, she agreeing, and the two returning home, arms linked.

Sally is then seen having her lunch with Oliver, they drinking coffee and Oliver asking for confirmation of Sally and Walter’s opinions of making his screenplay “come alive”, Walter not speaking and Sally avoiding a straight answer. Oliver takes a different approach by complimenting Walter, and Sally imagining how the two would’ve been in their youths, one forever looking like a star whilst the other having a fat-boy look which would spur his knack to knowing where other kids stood on the social food-chain, Walter’s only hold back being not ever having done a thriller before and Sally noticing the difference between the story Oliver was attempting to express as opposed to the others in the genre. Sally then has conflicting feelings about staying and wanting to leave, noticing Oliver’s taste in styling his apartment is similar to how Clarissa was looking and measuring their own.

Sally is then imagining returning the relics brought to her attention in Oliver’s apartment, wanting to put them back in their places of origin, when Oliver asks whether she supported his idea, she not committing to anything, claiming to not understand Hollywood. Oliver tries to get a more solid answer through flattery, finally insisting she must not be certain, she acquiescing into agreement. They discuss ideas of what would be a part of the story, Oliver including Walter, but he not sure for only having recently agreed and needing time to warm up, apparently. Oliver decides to pick his brain at a later date. Sally is about to change her opinion, but decides to not mention it, leaving. We then see Walter and Sally walking down the street together and get the impression of how they both failed and succeeded at Oliver’s lunch, but instead talk of Richard’s party later and how he was doing, Walter making the proper responses, but seeming fake for knowing of his own celebrity. Sally was going to try and ditch him when he hooks her into joining him inside a store upon seeing a t-shirt his boyfriend would like and she feeling sorry for him. As she browses, she thinks of how Clarissa is so difficult to read when it came to appropriate gift-choosing, she being similar to Dan in they both will show their love of the gift, the gifter only discovering later if the gift will be used once or at all.

Sally then becomes sentimental and wants to see Clarissa, deciding to make an excuse to leave Walter who was checking out, attempting to have her wait for him, but she adamant in leaving and only giving him enough time to provide her agreement on the shirt chosen being a good one. The next part reminding me of Clarissa Dalloway’s husband struggling to detect the perfect gift for Clarissa and working a way to confide he loved her, Sally also striving to come up with a gift, but puzzling to decipher another way of saying “I love you” for regularly saying it plainly. We then get a closer idea into how much Sally cares about Clarissa, she then seeing a flower cart and taking the same route of decision as Mrs. Dalloway’s husband. Sally, upon going inside her home though, considering more intimate matters in plainer terms than Richard Dalloway had. Once hearing Clarissa’s voice though, Sally senses something isn’t right, her feelings going sour. Clarissa doesn’t share Sally’s sense of wrongness in the air, instead recapping about Louis and Julia’s passing through. Clarissa then notices the roses and they share a lighter moment since both then noticed the roses already on the table, realizing their pure happiness at this moment.

Laura is late, but not too late, having gotten halfway through her novel and driving to pick up Richie, still immersed in Mrs. Dalloway’s world and era. She imagines herself being someone inside the novel or the author, she then stopping in the babysitter’s drive, she realizing she needed to get her car checked, she then feeling a dissociation to her life, all due to her hotel visit and being in the driveway and thinking warmly of death. Laura then begins feeling faint, wanting to go to her car and leave, but knowing she needed to claim her son and finish her husband’s birthday dinner. Laura then considers how her time alone would stay secret only since she wouldn’t know how to confess such an unusual, but harmless moment in her typical house-wife existence. She rings the bell and apologizes for her tardiness, the sitter not bothered and Richie rushing to the door, Laura having a moment of paranoid low self-esteem (as is seemingly her usual behavior; this story could be perfect for a psychology major).

As Richie arrives at Laura, he bursts into tears, she apparently having gauged his emotional state correctly, the gist being he had started to believe his sitter’s home would now be where he’d continue to live. As the sitter relays how much fun they had in her absence, we are also made to believe she was resentful and angered by Richie’s reaction since she had thought staying with her was a theme park-like visit to Richie, Laura wondering if people thought she was over protective of him and why he reacted this way consistently. Laura shares how they were an hour late in getting back and needed to have dinner prepared in time for Dan’s return, Laura now feeling like herself and fitting in her life once more. Laura notices Richie staring at her from the back and questions if everything was alright, he loudly professing his love to her, she returning his sentiments as naturally as she could muster whilst deciphering this new look on his face and nervous in knowing he will perpetually be attentive to her every move, she nonchalantly making conversation of how beneficial Dan’s hours were and they orchestrating a great party and she then thinking how Richie will unceasingly be able to sense if anything’s wrong and notice her failures, but she reiterating her love to her son and maintaining a smile as she doesn’t get angry, on their way home. (The emotions we are told about which Laura isn’t feeling are baffling and possibly showing her conviction to wanting to be happy with her life and future.)

Clarissa goes to Richard’s to help him prepare for his party, but doesn’t get a response at his door. She tries once more before using her own key, apprehensive to what she’ll walk in on, seeing the apartment bathed in light for all the shades being opened and the filthiness of the place revealed. Clarissa discovers Richard sitting astride the window, marveling at the beauty of the outside, she demanding he get down from his perch on the window. When Clarissa voices she’s unsettled by how he’s acting, he gives the impression he’s going further out the window and then shares the medicinal cocktail he’d taken to make him feel so good and the difficulty he’d had getting to the spot he was currently sitting, Clarissa requesting he at least put his foot back on the floor, he then confiding he didn’t feel he could come to the party, she stating he didn’t have to go, feeling like she were calm and once again apart from herself.

Clarissa imagined this moment as a memory and asks Richard to come back in once more. Richard looks seriously at her in response and she tries a stern tone, he then nodding, but not moving, confessing his thoughts of coming to the end of his ability to continue his existence further, she attempting to remind him of still having good days and he regarding her statements as nice, but feeling otherwise, Clarissa then inquiring if he was hearing the voices, he responding he was hearing her, but they forever being there; Richard continuing to come back to the beauty of the day and asking Clarissa to call his mother since she didn’t have anyone and finally requesting a story from Clarissa’s day, she describing of her time buying flowers, keeping the description brief and ending with her command of getting inside. Richard is then reminded of when they were young and being in love with her and Louis, circling to his thought of being a failure and she disagreeing, Richard going on to explain of wanting to have his work seen a certain way, she having to deny it being a “foolish” thought. Richard again repeating being unable to attend the party and Clarissa wanting to ease his mind and not to worry about it, offering to have him take her hand. He states his love to her (in a way I believe is from Virginia Woolf’s last letter to her husband) before he slides out the window.

Clarissa’s reaction was screaming in denial and then almost believing it hadn’t happened due to the look of calm on his face, but when she reaches the window, she’s in time to still see his descent, it almost seeming like it could end being only minimally damaging, but as he reaches his inevitable destination, Clarissa calling out softly, questioning, his head covered by his robe, she running out of the apartment still in shock and confused for a moment as to how to reach the spot Richard had fallen. When she gets a closer look she realizes the damage his landing had, then noticing glass and realizing it wasn’t caused by his fall and wanting to move him, but instead moves his robe, but after seeing the state of his face, paining and surprising her, she puts it back, leaving a hand on his shoulder and not wanting to leave him, but also realizing no one had noticed Richard fall, she knowing the police should be called, struggling to come up with an idea of getting the attention of a neighbor, she considering the feelings unexpressed and for not showing and confiding her love for him caused by flimsy excuses.

Laura is now watching Dan blow out the candles on his cake, hyper aware of the moment and Richie following her lead of applause once the candles are no longer lit. After she’s wished him a happy birthday, we are told of her pure anger at his apish ways and her fate of living this life and this role with him indefinitely, but the fury passes and he shows his affection in a way which makes her regret her reaction and noting his good qualities, she feeling the back of his head and again, describing it in a way which shows displeasure of the pure manliness and halfway unpleasant physicality. Dan offers Richie the task of helping cut the cake as Laura retrieves dinnerware for the slices and thinking of Kitty in the hospital whilst they, along with other families on the block set up their dinner tables. Laura then realizes the significance of her life with husband and son plus child on the way as she watches Richie pull out candles and is urged to lick the frosting off.

Virginia is attempting to keep focused on the book she is reading, knowing she and Laura will soon be moving to London. She thinks of all the places she’ll go and activities she’ll do, all of these moments feeding her stories. She then thinks of the kiss she shared with Vanessa and what it represented, then considering Clarissa Dalloway going to have a kiss which she’ll carry with her throughout her life. Virginia closes her book which prompts Leonard to ask if she’s ready to sleep, she declining due to restlessness and he hoping she’ll be ready in an hour, she agreeable since the fight for London was won, thinking again of Clarissa and whom will die being a brilliant, wonderful person.

Laura is getting ready for bed and anticipating her husband’s pose in bed not ever changing, and how she won’t be able to read this night. She puts her toothbrush and accessories away, noticing the recently refilled scrip. of sleeping pills, knowing she couldn’t use them whilst pregnant. She picks up the bottle and imagines the simpleness of ending everything. She goes into her bedroom, Dan greeting her, and she confirming he had a nice birthday, she feeling “like a ghost”, not feeling her body, taking so long to get in bed, Dan asking if she were going to lie down, she confirming, but not moving, hearing a dog bark. Knowing the woman is unhappy with life and is most likely verging on suicidal unless she comes to terms with her same sex inclinations is a bit annoying since we don’t get a determinate answer on how she ends up, only knowing she’s alone.

Clarissa is leading an old woman, Laura (double-take moment when I read this part, but it does come together if one pays attention) into her apartment where Clarissa notices her unarranged flowers once more. Clarissa introduces Laura to her daughter, Julia whom catches Clarissa up on those who had shown up to the party since not receiving the message, Louis being one of those focused on. Julia offers to get Laura a drink after she declines food from Clarissa, but setting an assortment, in case, knowing it had been awhile since she’d eaten.

Clarissa then gives away whom Laura is and why she’s at her apartment and would be staying overnight in the guest room, not the main reason being Laura was from Richard’s poetry, Clarissa then making a statement which she regrets due to they soon would be having enough people stating of Richard’s goodness, but Laura agrees with her and takes it well. Clarissa struggling to make conversation and wondering aloud about the status of Laura’s tea, then inwardly thinking of what Richard’s descent from the window must have been like, deciding to go check, coming into the kitchen to observe the selection of appetizers put out, impressed with the amount and thinking of its shelf-life lasting longer than everyone she knew. Clarissa then gauging the lasting power of Richard’s work and how Richard’s party would now only be entertaining four, Clarissa going back to the living room to fetch Laura.

Well, I certainly don’t remember the movie much since none of the story rang any bells other than a fuzzy image of Meryl Streep playing Clarissa, so I may have to revisit viewing it only to be a completist and having been surprised by Nicole Kidman’s transformation. In knowing the resources Cunningham researched, I suppose I’m less surprised by all the sexual references made, which only makes me wonder about the truth behind his fiction. I may do further research on Woolf, but until then, this was quite an interesting story and held my attention fairly consistently, which makes it worth the read by itself, but moreso if one has read Mrs. Dalloway.

 

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair

We begin with Ozymandias describing his accomplishments and how history has the final word of whether something is right or wrong. We are given brief description of the reason his parents decided to emigrate to America and the timeline thereof. Then Adrian describes his exceptional acumen from an early age. When his intelligence begins to draw attention, like The Incredibles, his father had to teach his son to “slow down” so as not to draw attention to himself, teaching him the lesson of life not being fair. Adrian gets further lessons with the helpful hands of bullies. His father wanted to deal with it for him, but Adrian had a different plan to take care of it himself. Adrian requested patience from his parents who were worried about his daily beatings, assuring them it would end soon; Adrian doesn’t disappoint. Only it didn’t quite end as he’d hoped. After graduating high school early and studying at Harvard, Adrian gets terrible news regarding his parents. Adrian goes on a journey to discover everything he can about his namesake, Alexander of Macedonia. Adrian then decides to give away his inheritance so he could prove his worthiness to match his idol’s accomplishments. He follows his route from Turkey onwards. After completing his trek, he goes to New York to build upon his savings through the stock market when he meets Miranda St. John. His focus on building his empire though, helps crumble his relationship. He’s wracked with guilt and is about to report the accident which comes from his neglect when ideas of how Alexander would have handled the situation circles his mind, deciding it better to deal with himself. He takes a lesson from other masked vigilantes in the papers and throws together a costume. Then he makes a promise to the drug dealer who supplied Miranda with the drug which ended her: he would regret his role in her death; promising start, I like it.

After four days, Adrian gets a lead and which gives him a run for his money; for a moment, anyways. Adrian gets the information he’s after without much resistance and he heads to the restaurant given and follows his lead out. He gets to the seemingly “abandoned” warehouse and sneaks to a spot to confirm his suspicions, zeroing in on the boss. Adrian makes his move with careful calculation. He gets everyone in the warehouse including the boss with grace and enough time for some disdainful comebacks then he waits for the authorities and comes up with his alias. Adrian continues his crime-fighting rampage after his success. After his continuing good luck, Adrian decides to research the fates of masked crime-fighters who came before him so he could avoid mistakes if possible. He comes across the mystery of Hooded Justice and begins to set his sight on perhaps tracking him down. It takes him pretty close to the truth when another mask confronts him violently. they are evenly matched until his opponent cheats. Adrian uses his planned defeat (so he says) to gather information on the mask. He lets his search take a backseat when he hears of Dr. Manhattan, though. He starts plans to construct a shelter for himself in Antarctica and the renting and construction of fallout shelters in general. Whilst his plans were underway, he’d take down more crime-gangs at night. After completing said mission, a police officer gives him an invitation to which Adrian had no interest in attending until being told Dr. Manhattan would be there, as well. He ends up playing to the crowd with Comedian for the event. After a couple other greetings from masks, he sees Dr. Manhattan, introduces himself and proceeds to listen in on a conversation between him and Nite Owl, discovering an interesting phenomenon. Before Dr. Manhattan leaves with Janey, he addresses Adrian whilst he was still hidden, unnerving him again.

Adrian’s fortress is completed and he begins to shed his former identity to start afresh what he’s become. He begins his study of Dr. Manhattan and his continued research brings one video of him which concerns him. In the meantime he also sees the ad for Hollis’ retirement and is soon summoned by the President, which he expected. Proceeding forward, Adrian sees the new masks replacing the old, seemingly more odd than before. During this time he’s also begun producing a perfume for mass marketing. Then, years after not hearing from Captain Metropolis, he gets invited to the first meeting of the Crime-busters. The group fell apart when Comedian started being difficult, making Adrian realize he’d have to save the world himself. He begun researching everything science fiction to discover an idea, finally discovering it after a second round of viewings. After genetically engineering Bubastis, Adrian goes to England and is met up by Dr. Manhattan, which he had an enlightening conversation with, which we don’t get details of.

After Adrian acquires his small island, he has work started and also has his personal assistant, Marla make the island disappear from public records. Once Nixon lets Dr. Manhattan loose on Vietnam, Adrian calls a press conference, making a big reveal to the public whilst other masks continue on, maintaining violence for violence. It escalates when the police strike after being denied their raise, giving rise to a riot, which Adrian helps quell. He gets a visit from Dr. Manhattan after, seeming to know what Adrian has in mind and doesn’t care. Adrian undertakes making a science fiction film with the best scientists, writers, artists and filmmaker he can hire and takes them to his island to work on it. Adrian’s plans continue to thicken as he enlists the help of Moloch upon his parole. Comedian discovers Adrian’s island and plans to detect what is actually there, not knowing it isn’t what he thinks. He discovers more than he bargains for and Adrian overhears him go to Moloch to vent, from having Moloch’s apartment bugged. The conclusion to Ozymandias is dramatic and entertaining making me yearn for more, but now I’m on to the Crimson Corsair.

This one also has a good start, giving us where the Crimson Corsair, who first was Gordon, begins his journey and what begins as carefree plans, until witnessing the length the captain of the ship he’s on will go to punish his crew, especially in the way of stealing. Gordon takes it so badly, he threatens the captain to step down from his position, thinking the crew would unite with him; what a terrible miscalculation on his part. He’s been sentenced to a whipping as punishment, even though he was trying to start a mutiny, a crime seemingly worse than stealing. Before having the whipping finished, another ship opens fire on them and, well, it’s quite exciting. Gordon gets dragged underwater, still bound to the cannon for his punishment. He luckily breaks free and swims for an interminable amount of hours, notices a flowing piece of “flotsam” from the ship to rest upon where someone before him didn’t survive, which brings a hungry shark along, scaring him, but switches to survival-mode to keep the creature at bay. He goes into unconsciousness until being found and brought upon another ship, staying asleep until being woken by one calling himself the Crimson Corsair. He soon realizes what ship he’s boarded and the curse he’s acquired for his ignorant mutiny. Gordon tries to come up with a way to be freed and is told of the only way known, which seems impossible. When Gordon wrongly inquires what would happen if he were to leave, the Crimson Corsair takes a valuable bit of Gordon and chucks him overboard, in a way giving him what he wanted.

He floats to a shore, after another unknown amount of time and realizes everything he’s been through thus far was true by the mark left on his chest. Gordon is soon happened upon by slavers after a group of would-be slaves run past him, when he is hit by a stray bullet and supposedly killed by the slavers in pursuit. He is transported back aboard the mythical ship temporarily until being thrust again out into the world, afraid of what he’ll uncover next. He learns he’s on a Spanish slavers ship and is cared for by one of the slaves. In return, Gordon tries to protect her from the Spaniard. He witnesses more cruelty to the slaves after and with the coming birth on-board, he sees the first of the items needed to free his damned soul. Gordon senses his moment to avenge the slaves aboard with the crashing of the ship upon rocks. They slip beneath the water and Gordon is only able to save one. He realizes he’s upon shore and more madness involving the mother of the child ensues. After which Gordon runs away, but towards his captors, from fear. He realizes his mistake and heads deep into the jungle, only to discover it’s inhabited. He is drugged and brought to a place similar to El Dorado or Mayan in nature.

Gordon sees a ritual sacrifice of the people, thinking they’re demons and realizing he’s next in line. The slavers had followed, though, stopping his certain death, for the moment and consigning their own. Then Gordon is again targeted for death until they notice the scar on his chest. They sacrifice another and seem to be putting Gordon through a test, making him drink from the sacrificed man and cast him down among bones. He is spoken to by the witch woman aboard the same slave ship and before having to fight a snake, the witch woman gets Gordon brought back up from the pit of death. he is given the second token for his freedom from the curse and she gives him the second only so he can kill the Crimson Corsair. He’s chained in another room to await sunrise and apparently death. More horror is shown during his wait; this selection is stronger of the four series, thus far. We also discover what the third token is, right near the end, giving a bit of a twist if one isn’t already used to the possible outcome. I can understand how this one could seem a bit confusing by the end, though, leaving one unsure of how Gordon becomes the Crimson Corsair, but one can assume what happened. Still, quite a journey. The last story is about the beginning of Dollar Bill, which I read up to the point of his trying to get into show business, then stopped because I don’t know much about him and didn’t care for the older style of comic illustration. Otherwise a strong collection, which I’ll be moving on to Comedian/Rorschach next.

Before Watchmen – Minutemen/Silk Spectre

I was convinced into reading this since having read the first and seeing both the extended cut of the movie and the stop-motion comic. We start with Hollis writing an introduction, then getting a call in response to his book, which apparently shows his descent into madness. We then go back to when Nite Owl was starting out and Hooded Justice was after some bank robbers and they go missing. They give the impression Sally Jupiter could have been in on it so they could control the press. So then we learn Hollis incorporated his being on the force to further his practice as a mask. Then we see a moment with a young Edward Blake; the dick. We’re also introduced to Byron Lewis. I’m enjoying the back-story snippets and the pretty pictures; I know, I sound like a simpleton, but they are nice. I like the Silhouette introduction and ends with how the Minutemen idea came about and how it started with posting an ad in the paper. Hollis meets Larry, his agent who is against his tell-all biography to Hollis’ annoyance. He knows it may ruffle some of his cohorts feathers, but he’s standing firm on its release. Then we see the auditioning process for the other “supers”. After Hollis makes it in, Metropolis masterminds the plans and everyone’s position in them. Their first mission takes down a smuggling ring and goes quite wrong, but instead of reporting it, Hollis is too scared and gets out of there with the rest.

Although the Minutemen have the intention of doing good, they are seekers of good press also, so when Silhouette brings up the child porn ring she could use help in crumbling, they decline because of the image it gives to the public. When they finish the meeting, Silhouette goes on her mission as the others intend to hang around and drink. Larry meanwhile is trying to get Sally to agree to pretend-whore herself out so he can make it seem like Hooded Justice and she were together; ah, the world they/we live. When we follow Silhouette with Mothman and Nite Owl looking for a missing boy, they discover blood and rope; these stories definitely don’t disappoint.

Hollis had a different viewpoint before detecting the missing boy, now deciding to leave the people-fixing alone and sticking to cars. He gets a visit from someone calling themselves a friend of Nelson’s regarding Hollis’ book, after. When he refuses to stop the process of publishing, Veldon, leaves with the decree Hollis will be hearing from their lawyers. Hollis feels the need to break the fantasy-image given from the press about the Minutemen and can’t let go of the truth he wants to share. We then go to Sally being attacked by the Comedian and what would be done about it as to whether he would be allowed to stay in the group. When Eddie doesn’t take the verdict seriously, he tries to point fingers at the rest of them, which were valid, but doesn’t change his actions. Also, if we had seen how young he was supposed to be in the movie, it would have given a different feel to how it played out. He was quite young, but it definitely doesn’t change what he did and became. The situation gets more serious before he finally decides to leave, spouting death threats as he goes.

A year after Eddie is being recruited by the FBI. Meanwhile, Hollis and Ursula meet once a week for coffee chats. Hollis breaks their rules of no last names or outside life talk, when he confesses his worries for Ursula’s safety he leaves a number he checks during late and early hours; he truly cared for her, it seems. Ursula is on a mission where she notices a young girl and loses her cool on the businessmen who surround her. Ursula calls Hollis for help and he tries to get to her as quickly as possible. Hollis then makes one realize how much horror one can take when denial is used as a coping mechanism. He goes to visit Byron who was severely changed by his experiences. Which doesn’t stop Hollis from trying to get an opinion about his book out of him, though. Then we go to 1946, when the Minutemen were still doing some good and celebrating, not knowing the consequences of the war which was ahead. Hollis made a promise to Ursula to look into some missing, then murdered children, which he felt obliged to do after she was expelled from the group. When Ursula is permanently expunged, Sally, in remorse, had help avenging Ursula and her partner. Sally finishes her confession and is approached by Eddie, making her apprehensive at first, but ends with them facing each other, he wanting to “talk”. Which they do, revealing to her his war horror story. He then shows some survivalist wisdom after his confession.

Hollis goes to Ursula’s apartment after her unfortunate demise, to clean up anything incriminating, but he wasn’t the first there, seeing other possessions left, which he takes with him, but not much is found. When he gets back to Byron’s hideout they both listen to the recorded tapes he discovered. The first contained Ursula’s experience during Hitler’s reign and her time at a children’s home half experiment house. Hollis goes to meet Sally and Laurie to talk about her opinion of his book. She thinks he’s changed his mind since Eddie has called her in distress and Larry having visited her recently about it as well. Sally gets upset once she realizes he still plans on publishing their dirty secrets and her vain and terrible experiences with Eddie as well as the murder she committed.

We skip back to Hollis and Byron trying to reveal evidence for Ursula’s case; blaming himself. They both continue to listen to the tapes Ursula made, which included them as well and gives us a more rounded view of their personalities from one of their own. Then Byron gets a call from Nelson who Hollis thought exaggerated some danger to get them to meet. They go and some “comic book” heroes await their arrival to inform them of an invasion they slowly start to take seriously. The young “comic” hero dies to save them from the disaster. The government quickly hushes the story to save face, though and makes the Minutemen’s involvement futile. Hollis stays with the boy as much as his job will allow until the radiation does its torturous worst. A couple of years later, they disband, but Hollis soldiers on for a promise he made, then Sally has Laurie not long after. A few years after, they are gathered to sign a loyalty oath and are made to unmask with an obvious two-way mirrored room. Byron loses his senses after signing the oath. We then skip ahead a few more years when Hollis is on duty and a missing boy is brought to his attention by a concerned mother who let her son go to the circus with some friends.

Hollis gets the feeling he’s missed something and investigates the circus, closed for awhile. He sees another masked “hero”, who Ursula mistrusted and follows him to the same place they found the other missing boy and proceeds to get a beating which ripens him like a pumpkin and cracks a couple ribs as well. In the morning Hollis comes to, and he sees the boy, speaking some comforting words before blacking out again. Hollis does eventually help the boy, which the city rewards him for. Hooded Justice disappears after which makes Hollis want to hunt him much more and so goes to Nelson for help, but he was almost too liquor-ed up and feeling sorry for himself to help, until the right question was asked and led to a possible spot Hooded Justice might still be using as a safe house. Hollis and Byron do some damage which Nelson cleans up and leads to Byron retiring as Hollis goes on. Hollis then gets a visit from Eddie about his not publishing his book and what he’d found out about Ursula from her information about Hooded Justice, which leads to a harsh truth Hollis would now have to face about his own actions. He then publishes his book minus the part Eddie threatened him to leave out and he goes on working in his auto shop Byron had made a gift for him before his leaving.

The next section begins with how Sally has raised Laurie and now she’s fed up with not having a social life, meeting a boy who’s been wanting to spend time with her and realizing they have certain parental-strangeness in common. It threatens the other girl in the soda shop and Laurie comes back angered over the words said, ready to leave. She gets stopped outside by the boy she saw and he reveals how he’d found out about her mother, then after professing his love, they hitch a ride with some friendly passersby. Laurie does put her training to good use on her own and writes to Hollis so he and her mother don’t worry as much, whilst explaining her staying away “for now”. One thing is definitely clear to me, Sally is rather close to what Laurie thinks of her. It only makes it more clear how vindictive she is even when she shouldn’t be taking out her own frustrations on her daughter. She’ll use any means necessary to get her selfish needs met. In conclusion,The Minutemen was more interesting story-wise, but Silk Spectre was easier to read and both were generally enjoyable; overall, worth it. The second Before Watchmen I chose to review is, here.

Heroes Die

Heroes Die

Here’s a confession: I truly love this book. It has everything one would want in an action/fantasy/adventure movie, even funny dialogue, except written out on the page. The reluctant protagonist is an actor called Hari Michaelson and is a futuristic icon of the masses. It’s what reality TV could become except no one on the planet he’s acting on knows he’s from another world acting for billions of people’s entertainment. On this other world, there live fairies with dirty mouths and living in whore-houses, a new God whom Hari has pissed off, along with plenty of other folk.

There are other actors besides Hari who go so far as to get reconstruction surgeries to make themselves look elvish or whatever other sorts of fantastical creatures residing on this other world so they can try to make a living as an actor in this strange new development of the business. I don’t want to get too in depth on this, but it is quite worth the read, especially since it’s continued on as a series; but so far this is the best of the three, although if this one does whet the appetite, the sequel is just as violent and humorous as the first.

The Decameron

decameron2

This book definitely has a different flavor compared to other stories from long ago; and I’m glad I decided to read this instead of The Canterbury Tales, since I found Chaucer used some sources for his work from here. Also, I believe I would be back-tracking my enjoyment level by trying to read Chaucer’s work now, since it sounds like it’s the Christian and heavily more religious version of this sordid and expansive bunch of short stories.

It’s written in an easily consumable way and in an understandable fashion; many are sexually driven and the stories do mirror each other in format, but after reading a couple hundred pages, they all tend to have to do with people getting into trouble and discovering someone to “have pleasure with” and get out of trouble again. Despite my rudimentary explanation they are pretty decent stories.

I definitely didn’t read them without breaks between, though. The translators did a stellar job of updating the speech. I recommend this before reading The Canterbury Tales, and then I’d want a counter-review for this one, to whomever’s game.