May, 2018: True North by Jim Harrison

(Book #97) Sharon agreed to be the member who would host twice this year and we were all really excited that they might both be in the same residence! My evening email thank-you was entitled True West:

I was thinking what a great meal Sharon served as Melissa pulled out of her typically lucky parking place and then my mind settled on the realization that both of our destinations were truly True West, well, from Sharon’s anyway.  We dropped Geri at Treasure Island, a store that chewed me up and spit me out years ago, and they’re still in business (not any more!) and I’m writing chatty thank you notes to my book club pals. But I’m off track. We dropped Geri at Treasure Island, the robber barons of Chicago, and I don’t care who knows I said it. They razed a piece of land, built little metal sheds, turned it in on itself and then made the tenants buy neon signs, neon, the worst possible sign for use outside. We asked Geri if she wanted us to wait but she said No, she had to walk off all that she ate at Sharon’s. I wondered if I should get out of the car and walk with her as I had clearly eaten more than she did, but I wasn’t going to get out at Treasure Island and dredge up all the old feelings of how they made my life a living hell.  So, I kept on with Melissa and we headed west on North Avenue and turned just before Elston on that little street right before Comcast/Xfinity — another business that’s raped more than its fair share of poor people just trying to make a living and watch a little TV.  I ran into Melissa’s quickly, where I noticed one of the dogs was erect but I couldn’t imagine I had anything to do with that, so I waited for Melissa to find her list of book choices for 2018. In one night I handed out the three prizes for those three who were first to make their literary choices. I was glad Vernice wasn’t there because I would have had to make up a rule which would categorically prevent her pompous self from winning the book Sing, Unburied, Sing (Geri), Prosecco (Chris), or Godiva chocolates (Melissa).  [Is she hinting at something here, I can’t tell. -Ed] WAIT, now there’s an editor??   Fine, fine, so Melissa gave me her answers, I headed to the car and though I hadn’t driven to Sharon’s, I was easily back into the swing of driving, the feel of my steering wheel and the click of my turning signal. It took longer than I thought it would to get home — I probably should have driven the whole way, but I decided to launch the boat I tow everywhere, into the Chicago River, just to feel the breeze and look at the moon.  I couldn’t see any stars because as has been pointed out to me at least twice lately, there is too much ambient light in the city. I saw a turtle who looked a bit peckish but just kept rowing. When my arms began to tire, I tied on my snowshoes and inadvertently won a downhill snowshoe race — they’ll probably take back the trophy because I entered the race more than midway through the course, but it felt good to cross the finish line first.  Once home, I tried to think about just what was so good about Sharon’s meal. Was it that she hosted even though she was sick and wanted to put it all in doggie bags to send home with us? I’m so glad she didn’t choose that plan but rather carried on with her exquisite hosting, because I feel certain a bear would have gotten my brown bag on the snowshoe portion of my way home. Was it the yummy appetizers with the white cheesy stuff inside the endive leaves? the dried apricots, cheese and crackers? the wine?  Or was it the truly amazing Tagliatelle (?) Bolognese? the deliciously crunchy baked cauliflower and broccoli? the every so tasty arugula and fennel salad? Maybe it was the incredible dessert — tart cherries with chocolate chips, almonds and oats topped with either Cherry Vanilla or Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream — served with a chocolate red wine from a store that doesn’t violate the environment and plunder its people?? Yes, I think that was it, a simple chocolate red wine from an honest fair-priced vendor. No, stop, that couldn’t have been it — I didn’t even drink any of the chocolate red wine and I was still taken aback by the delicious evening. Perhaps I can’t understand — maybe I’m not meant to understand — yes that’s it,  I’m not meant to understand! oh thank goodness — I finish this now in a lighthearted state because not just the meal, but all of existence is clearly beyond my comprehension!Thank you, Sharon so completely for such a lovely evening and thank you for hosting even while under the weather.  I hope hope hope you feel better soon and we will see you next month in Indiana when Chris hosts The Stone Diaries on June 12.
Respectfully submitted,Teresa

My review on Goodreads: There is no question that the book captures the U.P. of Michigan but the central character and his quest just did not hold my interest. While I didn’t have an issue with David’s polemic against his father, the family greed and their part in the deforestation of the U.P., I did have a problem with its repeated reference with little elucidation. I should also admit that I have no interest in the discussion of religion, comparison of religious beliefs or examination of the Bible and True North is loaded with all of the above. I couldn’t understand David’s attraction to Vernice, and I was so distanced from the characters, I didn’t even cry when the dog died!
All that said, kindle statistics indicate 30 highlights— so I clearly had moments of appreciation for the writing or the author’s observations.