Saturday, April 21, 2007

House of Good Hope, New England Tour, 2007

1. On the plane ride from Minneapolis to Hartford a woman sang a Christmas carol to me in Polish

2. Warning: at the Maple Ave. Giant Grinder shop in Hartford, Conn. what looks like a single piece of lasagna is actually a half piece.

3. On a rainy afternoon in Hartford's troubled Frog Hollow neighborhood, a man backed his yellow Nissan X-Terra into my rented PT Cruiser. Later, our problems resolved, he gave me a bottle of Poland Springs water and called me a "nice Irish man."

4. A wild turkey with an attitude ruffled himself up and beak-pecked at the basement window in my friends' Glastonbury house as we watched. No damage to the window.

5. The fierce Nor' Easter that hit Connecticut so flooded the Connecticut River that the riverside park disappeared beneath water, the only sign of it the occasional lampost along a sidewalk.

6. Rain kept falling, and my friend Mary used a carpet cleaner to suck water that had seeped through an unsettled door into the carpet in her home office.

7. Why we can't always trust bureaucratic documents: my cousin Peter Urbanik found one about his Catholic grandfather that called him "Hebrew."

8. My friend, Eric Shorter, who is featured in "House of Good Hope" as a man dreaming of building his own house with a jacuzzi, now owns a house with a jacuzzi. On the tub edge rest these large words carved from wood or shaped from metal: "Dream" and "Believe."

9. Joshua Hall Jr., the beautiful infant son of Joshua Hall (also featured in the book) gets to listen to XM Classical music while waiting for sleep to come.

10. When the bookstore RJ Julia offered me my choice of one book for having read in their store, I chose Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies."


carla ten eyck said...

Mike- I just learned about your book from Bethany Sullivan, Gerri's daughter. I am so excited to read it- I went to HPHS with all of the guys you wrote about, and dated Bobby Torres all through high school. I was at most of the track meets you wrote about, I'd wager and was trained by Butch for a few years as well. I am so eager to read this book and take a nice long walk down memory lane! I am back in Hartford myself, as a photographer and so proud to be here!

Downs said...

Thanks for your comment, and I hope you enjoy the read! In a way, I hope, it's a love letter to Hartford -- and that means the good and the bad.
Bobby stopped by HPHS the day I spent there talking with students. It was great seeing him again and catching up.
Congratulations on finding your way back home ... I'm always glad to hear from people who love Hartford and live there. And I hope to visit more as I'll be moving to Baltimore in the summer.

carla ten eyck said...

I would love to meet up with you on a return trip- I am sorry I missed your talks in Hartford! My return home is very emotional- I took over my childhood home this December after my Mom died and my husband and I are lovingly renovating it- it is just down the street from HPHS, so I am knee deep in memory lane!! Best of luck and such with the book!

Downs said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's death. What a strange and wonderful thing it must be to renovate your childhood home when she isn't there. I hope you are taking lots of photos of the process.

MLE said...

The real question is, what did you think of Interpreter of Maladies? I must admit, it's one of my favorites, but I'm also open to possible critique.

Downs said...

MLE: I don't know what to think of Interpreter of Maladies, as I've yet to crack the spine (the hazards of life as a journalism prof: hardly time to read). I did just start -- and am 3/4s of the way through -- Francine Prose's book on reading as a writer, which is great fun and a help: calisthenics for the reader.