That American Mrs. Dalloway
first class mrs. dalloway of short hills, nj, long ago buried her 'he-ain't-heavy,-he's-my-brother' instincts under an 'i-am-not-my-brother's-keeper' personality. now she goes on a group trek up the baltoro glacier in pakistan to k2 and things fall apart. More
reader: "okay so it's about this amicably divorced but still monied woman who claims to think the world of herself and her excellent life and doesn't seem to think much of anyone or anything else--sort of an 'i-am-not-my-brother's-keeper' type--who ups and goes on a punishing group trek in the mountains of pakistan where someone dies and then they all stumble back down out of the clouds and the snow; and, alright, along the way she's had the rare emotional flash of the 'he-ain't-heavy,-he's-my-brother' type, and then at the end she's convulsed in tears after watching another woman eat a sandwich in the islamabad airport. so, okay, she has problems connecting with other human beings? i mean, on and on she yammers to us about herself through desert landscapes and across rivers and along gorges and up glaciers, struggling weakly behind this crew of sinister trip doctors and predatory oklahoma widows and condescending trek leaders and rich aging plastic californians and really-really rich japanese (spoiler alert: one of whom is the one who dies) and midwestern, midwestern grocers and a varied crowd of tribal muslim guides and porters young and old--and never doubting everyone's there to be 'managed' and that she can manage every one of them; can manage anyone--that that has helped her most to create her excellent first class life. she's just plain special. but i can't see any clear picture of where the author's taking me, there's no real story line, no a plus b equals c; everything goes around and around the poor woman and she can never quite pull any of it together for herself, or for me. and that whimpering ending? and what's all that about rad-fem catholic nuns, and husbands with ever so helpful secretaries, and narcissistic new york buddhists, and gay sons--everyone seems to have a gay son, what's that all about? and why 'american'? what's so 'american' about this mrs. dalloway."
writer: "well, no, you're right: i haven't drawn a clear picture. what i have done, though, is put in the dots. so that you can connect them and come away with the picture for yourself. because that's the kind of writing that gives me, when i'm the reader, the most memorable--the most enjoyable, really--experience. perhaps it's the feeling of connection (so missing in my mrs. dalloway's life) that can come from my part in bringing some words on a page to life in my head, or wherever it is that the story really happens."
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