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Even mind-numbing TV has some attraction

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What can you do to fill the hours after the need for your help comes to an end? Picking up a good book seems to beat falling asleep in front of a TV.

How about Lost, by Joy Fielding?

I learned enough of the geography of the setting for this story while I attended summer school in Toronto to be able to see it in three dimensions. This helps me focus on other dimensions, keep me from falling asleep.

There's a dog in this story, Elvis, a Wheat terrier that belongs to the daughter who is lost. Elvis barks and squirms and licks faces all through the 400 pages. He'd be the male counterpart of Daisy who adds elan to the

old comic strip, Blondie. If Elvis were edited out, assuming Fielding is paid by the word, her royalties would be much reduced.

Having allowed my whiskers to be washed by several dogs who are important members of family homes, I must admit Elvis may not be based on any real character in Fielding's life, but he could be. His frenzied barking echoes real life, too.

The narrator tells the story through the mind of Cindy who is mother of the vanished Lisa. We hear what Cindy suppresses as well as what she spits out her mouth. In the novel it provides real colour and contrast, unlike the mind-numbing introspection we hear in television programs.

Cindy has two daughters. The younger reminds me of the brother of the prodigal son in the bible, and of Cain and Abel from Genesis. Has Fielding read John Steinbeck's East of Eden? She also reminds me of children who passed through my classrooms during 34 years of teaching, and of closer to home situations.

Lost tells the story of a young woman's striving to break into stardom. We don't know whether or not she succeeds, but we are reminded of actual careers. Shirley Temple sang and tapdanced her way into the hearts of millions in the 1930s. My sister Gretta was inspired to follow her role model. They both had bouncing blonde curls. But it may have been Dad who was smitten by the little girl in the movies and enrolled his daughter in lessons. He learned the steps along with Gretta and taught her friend Doris Laur. I remember watching them practise on the floor of the granary while the white leghorn chickens raced around the building impatient to be fed.

Shirley Temple passed away just weeks ago, apparently never having her life ruined by the early attention.

We at the Senior Centre Singers are rehearsing Somewhere Over The Rainbow as we prepare for the spring concert coming up on May 2nd. Judy Garland was already a star in vaudeville and film before she hit the yellow brick road to Oz in 1939. She was 17 when she asked musically "If birds fly over the rainbow, why oh then can't I?"

Judy was high on my list of desirable females then. I never understood what prevented her from reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Did it have anything to do with her real name, Frances Gumm? Probably not.

Fielding's novel revives the memory of a day in Toronto when a distraught young woman jumped from a bridge onto the Don Valley Expressway outside the school I was attending. I never joined the rush to look down at

the crumpled pile of clothing. Fielding's character, Faith, opts to leap into the path of a subway train, handing her baby boy to her neighbour, Cindy, at the last minute.

This convoluted tale reveals it's Cindy's frantic search for Lisa that drives Faith to end her post-partum-shattered life.

Come to think of it, there must be more suitable books to fill one's lonely hours! Even mind-numbing TV has some attraction.

 

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