My wife and I, relatively, recently saw the entire six seasons of Sex and the City. The story of four New York women in their 30’s. The series is as much about being single and female in your 30’s as it is about living in Manhattan as it is about New York.
The first four seasons are the best of the show. We follow Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) from her failed relationship with Mr. Big (played by Chris North) to her engagement and her final realization that she’s not the marrying type. In the middle we see her all of her friend Samantha’s sex lives, her WASPish friend Charlotte York’s marriage and divorce to the perfect husband, and Miranda Hobbes on and off again love affair with Steve Brady.
What makes the first four seasons so entertaining is that the characters are never pathetic, the story line is funny, and the focus is on the good and the bad of New York. Some of my favourite episodes involve New York and the challenges of trying to find a relationship.
In Season 1, Carrie remarks that single people when they are the guests of married people are expected to share the sordid details of their single life. This way the married couple can both vicariously live through the single persons’ life AND be relieved they are married. I often thought that was how I watched the show.
Unfortunately Season 5 and 6 were collarateral damage of 9/11. Season 5 took place in 2001, and it was hard if not impossible to write about New York without breaking your heart. So much so that the characters actually went to West Coast in season 5, and fled all the way to Paris in season 6. Worse, whereas Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda grew out of their 30’s, Carrie remained stuck. And somehow her stuckedness was pathetic not liberating or exhilirating.
The series finale involving Carrie fleeing to Paris only to be rescued by Mr. Big in a scene straight out of Sleepless and Seatle was disappointing if not downright irritating.
The series was great for four seasons, fine for a fifth, and ended miserably.
But it did have it’s moments.
Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is a beautifully written book about India during the Raj. The story is nominally about the coming of age of Kim and his transformation from an Indian to an Englishman. The story really is about India.
I spent two months in India two years ago. The experience was amazing. I stayed in Bangalore which is South India. The intensity of the life, not just human but animal and vegetable and insect and reptile can be overwhelming to a westerner accustomed to his sterile world. The biomass of the world around you in India can overwhelm your ability to process information.
Reading Kim and especially his descriptions of the roads and the multi-coloured and textured individuals reminds of me of my time in India as well. The chaos, the claustrophobia of people on top of each other, the pagentry of the open road has not changed very much. And Kipling captures that in his prose.
Kipling is also able to use the written word to contrast the Indian and English word. When he describes India the prose becomes more flowery, more filled, when he describes English scenes the prose becomes dryer, stiffer. Almost as if to be Engish is to be functional not magical.
Having said that, the book can be irritating to readers accustomed to the short clipped sentences of our post-hemingway literature. Kipling writes in long luxurious sentences with multiple clauses and references. Many times his words are not meant to be descriptive but evocative somewhere between poetry and prose. And that can be frustratingly difficult to read. In addition,o the book is full of references to Indian terms that require an appendix. The first read of the book can be very disruptive as you jump between a sentence and the appendix.
The tale itself has all of the elemens of a early 20th century tale with all of the normal and natural prejudices of its time.
I wonder if Kim serves as a metaphor for Indian progress as well? While in India, I watched how the old India world was being slowly and systematically obliterated by a more modern, cleaner western world. People’s lives improved, but at the same time something was being lost.
I have read the book twice already. I will read it a third.
Last time I checked we’re still involved in a civil war in Iraq.
Last time I checked we’re still involved in a civil war in Afghanistan.
Last time I checked I still can not bring booze from my uncle’s winery onto a plane.
Last time I checked baseball games were a place I could go and forget about that.
Not any more. In our post 9/11 world, Take me out to the ball game has been replaced by God Bless America.
I was surprised to discover how much this pissed me off. And I realized why later. It’s another cheap way for us to show our support for our troops without having a draft, taxes or rationing. Maybe if we had a draft, taxes and rationing, we could have our passtime back….