Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sweet Solitude

I loved this...from Lance Manion:

I almost switched to A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. But it didn't take much skimming for me to realize that this was not a book about Cape Cod, it was a book about being Joan Anderson alone with herself on Cape Cod, and I was not part of the intended audience, the book's aimed at women who want to be alone with themselves on Cape Cod.

Might have been unfair of me to dismiss it out of hand as a woman's book, but it didn't help that the book jacket made clear that Anderson has developed a cottage industry based around her books of self-help for women who have suddenly found themselves, mostly by way of divorce, apparently, alone with their thoughts for long periods of time and who like it that way.

What is it about women, I asked myself as I put A Year By the Sea back in its place on the shelf in the bookstore, that makes them so enamoured of the idea of solitude?

And why are they so interested in telling each other about it?

Seems an oxymoronic pursuit.

Men don't do that. Solitude drives men mad. Maroon a man on a desert island and he'll either go out of his mind in a hurry or he'll find ways of not being alone. He will come home with long tales of the lives of breadfruit.

Strand a woman on a desert island and after she gets over her ecstatic feelings she'll build a desk in the most secluded spot she find and spend her days writing with a pen made of seagull's feather in ink made from berry juice about how she's amazed herself with all the wonders she's found exploring the depths of her own heart and soul.

And after she's rescued her book will be the bestseller.

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