Almost four weeks away from the blogosphere. My hiatus began with computer problems, making posts became impossible. Then one week of not blogging turned into two weeks of lounging and trying to enjoy the summer. I took from the midsummer what I could and my reading and writing ways are back. I only read Walker Percy's The Moviegoer and Michael Dirda's Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life.
My summer reading books are piling up beneath my desk, ever closer to toppling over and scattering under the bed. Listening to the MLB All-Star Home Run contest, I'm trying to finish Bernard Malamud's The Assistant. I always thought it was about a young professional in the corporate world. Don't ask why. I just did. I couldn't have been further from the truth and that's a good thing. Malamud has painted a painfully real portrayal of not just urban life, but life. A struggling grocer in New York, Morris Bober, is mugged by two assailants. Alone, this act is nothing too unusual. However, one of the thieves comes back to help the grocer, to repay what he stole. He doesn't tell the grocer, or the grocer's wife that he was one of the robbers, but he works hard in the store paying the money back, but continuing to pilfer here and there.
It's a story of redemption, religion and love. Because not only does Frank Alpine try and redeem himself, but he falls for Morris's daughter Helen. For any male reader, Helen is the ideal.
He asked her what book she was reading.
The Idiot. Do you know it?
No. What's it about?
It's a novel.
I'd rather read the truth, he said.
It is the truth.
This is Helen. This is my Helen.
Bernard Malamud The Assistant
Plutarch The Makers of Rome