I finished Too Good To Be True, the book about Bernie Madoff. Besides Madoff himself, who else was a villain? That turns out to be harder to determine than you might think. Madoff was a pure villain, and at the other end of the spectrum there are pure victims. But in between there is a huge gray area. Who among the players was duped, making them fall on the victim side of the equation, and who among them were enablers with a pretty good idea about what was happening? Where is Shakespeare when you need him?
One of the more chilling quotes in the book is this one from Ezra Merkin: “As long as investors remain human, and thus subject to greed, fear, pressure, doubt, and the entire range of human emotions, there will be money to be made by those who steel themselves to overcome emotion.” In other words, there’s a sucker born every minute.
From the unsettling end to that book, I moved on to Tuna: A Love Story. This book is by Richard Ellis, who wrote On Thin Ice, the book about polar bears I recently read. Tuna tells the story of the bluefin tuna, which we are in the process of loving to death. Not far into it, I realized that I had exceeded my capacity to read depressing stuff, especially back-to-back. I may still read it one day, just not now. This required an emergency trip to the library. What I needed was a little Dave Barry, or Carl Hiassen. If Tina Fey wrote books, that would have been just the ticket.
Just in time, I remembered that I had pledged to read along with Fran’s book club. Fran is a former high school classmate and now Facebook friend who lives in the D.C. area. April’s book is The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin, and Fran assured me the book was lightweight. I’m now just over a hundred pages into it, and I can say that truer words were never spoken. If it weren’t for Fran, and my pledge, I would have given up on this book 50 pages ago. It’s a good thing I’m not actually there and won’t be present in the book club meeting next Tuesday, because I’d have to be asking the hostess “What were you thinking?”
I keep waiting for something to Happen in the book–not that something Happening is a requirement, but plot is normally a good thing to have in a novel. And then around page 100 or so, there was a quote that made it all worth it.
One of the characters, Harry, is dying of cancer and has come to the fishing camp in Maine where he spent every summer. He came the summer after his wife died, and Harry’s son says the camp is what got Harry through. At the time, Harry said to his son, It has the pure beauty of having been forgotten.
I was just stunned by that quote. Haven’t we all been to a place like that? A place of timelessness, where you are reminded that it will go on and be there long after you are not? But instead of feeling regretful, you feel completely at peace with the idea? Maybe you haven’t, but I hope so. That feeling doesn’t last long, and you can’t force it to occur.
So now, whatever the book holds, I’m with it to the end.