On my way into town this morning, I heard Jimmy Buffett interviewed on NPR. Ever since I did that residency at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts, I’ve felt a kinship with Jimmy. I am by no means a Parrothead like my buddy Tim Wright.
When you’ve vacationed in the Redneck Coast long enough, you grow weary of Margaritaville, which is on constant replay all afternoon long and into the sunset at every beach resort, eatery and bar. It’d be like a long-haul truck driver listening to Willy Nelson’s On the Road Again all day long. After awhile it becomes a form of torture.
Still, I appreciate a little Buffett every now and again. He was being interviewed because today is the opening of Escape to Margaritaville, a Broadway musical that has been a bucket list dream of Jimmy’s. I love seeing people’s dreams come true, don’t you?
Jimmy said something today that stuck with me. He said at age 70 he’s made sure to balance that work-to-play ratio. You don’t get to where Jimmy’s got to by being a beach bum. You have to work and make sacrifices. In Jimmy’s case, he slept in trailers and used an electric blanket as his primary form of heating. Remember when electric blankets were weighted with lead webbing? It was like sleeping under one of those x-ray shields they give you when they take pictures of your teeth roots.
I’m bad at that work-to-play ratio. It’s a trait I learned from Brother John and Sister Tater, who are also bad at that work-to-play ratio. I’m kidding. I learned it the same place my siblings learned it – from our mother. Like too many women, our mother was a work-alcoholic. In her defense, she was forced into that role, like a lot of people.
How are you at that work-to-play ratio?
Lately, though, I’m trying to take Jimmy Buffett’s advice. I’m fitting in more time for leisure activities. This past couple of weeks, I’ve managed to go to the picture show three times. It helps that the Sisters Movie House is such an enjoyable old-timey theater with all the modern amenities. I’ve seen Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time. I recommend them both. I quit going to the picture show because so much of what was recommended was a waste of my time. I am not a fan of Apocalyptic or Dystopian storylines. I don’t particularly care for the one we are currently being forced to live in a daily basis.
But both these movies speak hope to the world. If you are in need of an uplifting message, where good wins over evil, go see them. In addition, these movies are simply stunning. The landscapes. The time travel. The imaginary. I got so busy studying the graphics that I forgot to listen to what folks were saying.
In addition to taking in movies, I’ve been reading several books. I have long been a fan of Tayari Jones’s work. A Georgia native, Tayari knows how to weave a tale that consumes me. If you haven’t read An American Marriage (a NYTimes Bestseller) you should. Then go back and read Silver Sparrow and Leaving Atlanta. I loaned my copy to my daughter and she stayed up late every night reading. I bet you will, too.
I’m currently almost finished with Amy Bloom’s latest White Houses. I might be the only adult to not know that Eleanor Roosevelt had a bi-sexual relationship. The first thing I did when I started reading Bloom’s book was to call my historian husband and ask him how come he never told me that. I couldn’t see him but I’m pretty sure Tim rolled his eyes at me.
Roosevelt was kind of a big deal in Georgia. I’ve been to the Little White House many times. I could tell you all about his polio, about his love affairs, but I knew nothing about Eleanor’s. The book is well done, gossipy in nature. One of the most disheartening things though is seeing how Eleanor and Franklin used people for their own self-gratification and then tossed them aside. What makes people do that? Cast aside people who are no longer useful or pleasurable?
It’s such a sad thing to witness. Bloom’s book details the ways in which both Roosevelts did this.
When I finish Bloom’s book I’m going to start in on Luis Alberto Urrea’s latest, The House of Broken Angels. Urrea has a way of infusing life with joy and passion. I cannot wait to delve into this read.
But the book I cannot wait to share with you, the one we all have to keep waiting for, is the story of Joy Davidman as told by Patti Callahan Henry in her historical fiction Becoming Mrs. Lewis. In full disclosure, Patti and I are friends. I was honored to read an early draft of this story and I can’t wait for you all to read it. This is the story I think Jack and Joy both have been waiting for the world to read, to know about the two of them. There is so much I want you to know about this book, but I’m going to let Patti tell you in her own words.
Patti does what no other writer has done before – she breathes life into Joy, the way God did Adam. All other books I’ve read on Joy imagine her as Jack’s poor dying friend. The misogyny of the culture and the church in particular renders the relationship of Joy and Jack as one borne of pity.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis will change forever the way readers consider the relationship between Joy and Jack. I think Jack himself will be cheering Patti on for setting the record straight.
And I know Joy will.