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Saturday, July 13, 2002

Heat and Reading

I went to TABRU this morning and planned on running by the mall after but I just wanted to go home it was so hot. After a quick stop at the grocery store I came home. I did little but read and enjoy the cool.

TABRU was down to half a dozen regulars. Between the heat and so many people being gone in the summer there isn't much interest in anything but keeping cool. We're trying to decide what to do next now that the bad transportation plan (the city's) was shot down in flames by the voters, and the good transportation plan did not get enough signatures to get on the next ballot. I must say I couldn't get interested in doing much right now. Between the heat and year end at work I was just doing what I had to.

I read two very good books. The first was "The Bones in the Attic" by Robert Barnard. Matt Harper buys a house in an area that he visited when he was seven years old. While going over it with the decorator they find a baby's skeleton in the attic that had been there a long time. It's determined that it could have been the summer he visited his aunt nearby and played with the children in the houses he has now moved into.

This is not only a good mystery but an excellent look at families and friendship and evil. Matt is raising three children of his partner while she is nursing her husband, and the children and Matt have the worry of what is going to happen in the back of their minds. The children he played with thirty years ago seem to be afraid of something. Hiding something. It's a heartwarming story about Matt and his family but a chilling story about the evil that even children can have. As Matt and Charlie Peace, the police officer, struggle to solve the mystery I couldn't put the book down. Excellent as the best of Robert Barnard are.

The second book is a nonfiction about families and evil, "Hiding Places" by Daniel Asa Rose. Danield takes his two young sons to Europe to find the places that his family hid during the holocaust and to have more time with his sons after the trauma of a divorce a few years earlier. Daniel goes back and forth between his life as a child growing up in a Connecticut town/suburb and the hiding places he found as a child, and the hiding places they are looking for in Europe. Raised as a very secular Jew yet upset by his mother's stories about the holocaust he is also looking for his ambivalence about being a Jew. I could not go to sleep until I finished it. It's irritating, horrifying, tender and delightful in turn.

Like Daniel I've wished I wasn't related to, grouped with people who I find to be embarrassing yet I realize they are good people despite their irritating and embarrassing habits and activities. In a broader view I am ambivalent about being looked on as a woman, a white person, a poor person, a well off person (it all depends on your point of view), a conservative, a liberal, etc. I think the most irritating view is when I am judged on my ethniticity. I didn't have a whole lot to do with that yet I am judged for good or bad on it. For instance, blaming me for slavery when I never approved of slavery or owned a slave and, as far as I know, neither did my ancestors since they all seem to be peasant stock. This makes as much sense as blaming Jews for the death of Jesus when Jews living now had nothing to do with it. Even now there are blacks that own slaves yet we can't call african americans slave owners because other blacks own slaves. I'm not saying this well, but it's such a difficult subject and I'm in a "favored" ethnic group so I can't imagine how difficult it is for persecuted groups such s Jews and blacks.

Rachel Aschmann 2002.
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