where are you reading Larry's Party?

(In my mom's backyard, Friday afternoon.)

I heart several things about Larry's Party, including the cover art, which was provided by Carol Shields and perfectly illustrates the main character's endless self-study and perpetual, selfish childishness.

One of the things I like very much is how Larry as a character is something of a roving target, a person whose likes and dislikes and bits and pieces move with time. So the decision to lock into his life about once a year, and tell a story about where he's at at any given time seems to reflect the fluidity of living.

Take, for example, Larry on his 30th birthday:

"....he's supposed to be sunk in gloom at the thought of turning thirty, but he isn't. He's unique and mortal, he knows that...." (p. 42)

Versus, his 40th birthday:

"Beth believes that 'it' is like a novel with its ups and downs of plot.... What Larry's going through is a natural phase. A chapter. A passing condition, this inflation of sadness....

"He doesn't want 'it' to blow away, that's the catch.

"When he wakes in the middle of the night, three o'clock, four o'clock, he is immediately alert to the presence of 'it' in the room, so close he could reach out and take it in his hand and marvel at the faithfulness and constancy of an 'it' that has chosen him and now resolutely hangs on...." (p. 168)
Perhaps my take on Larry's uneasy selfishness will change as I finish this novel, but at the moment, I have to admit it's sort of a treat to climb inside this ridiculous man's head. He is so unlike Daisy Goodwill, the main character in The Stone Diaries. While her voice often seems overwritten by the thoughts, feelings and interpretations of all those around her, Larry is light and easy. He is a man who accidentally steals a jacket, then justifies it, then tosses the coat altogether -- effectively losing two coats in one day -- and just moves on. At the same time, he constantly allows himself to sink into the teeniest crevices of the smallest problems. Ultimately, I suppose the very first tale, of Larry's stealing the jacket, is the perfect template for how he handles life in general.... But maybe I'll find myself wrong once I actually get to Larry's Party, the final chapter of the book.

No comments: