|Our cherry tree. Not on Cherry-Tree Lane, though.|
Here are the first lines of the books I finished reading in April. My selections this month all seemed to contain some form of gaslighting, a vicious psychological manipulation in which the perpetrator tries to get the victim to question reality. And family features prominently, in one form or another.
The handsome dining room of the Hotel Wessex, with its gilded plaster shields and the mural depicting the Green Mountains, had been reserved for the Ladies’ Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club.
If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the policeman at the crossroads.
I’m standing on the red railway car that sits abandoned next to the barn. The wind soars, whipping my hair across my face and pushing a chill down the open neck of my shirt.
This report is submitted to the Attorney General pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c), which states that, "[a]t the conclusion of the Special Counsel 's work, he ... shall provide the Attorney General a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions [the Special Counsel] reached."
The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle House,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.
The titles and authors revealed:
It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis. © 1935. In which “the Right Honorable Mr. Senator Berzelius Windrip” snatches the Democratic Party nomination from FDR, and comes to power as POTUS. This fascist comes from the left, but to get to power employs gaslighting, anti-Semitism, and racism just the same as any fascist does. Such tyranny hasn’t happened here on a national scale (yet) for white people. But can it?
Here’s Lewis’ description of Berzelius ‘Buzz’ Windrip:
The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store. …
Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill. …
[He] would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts—figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect. …
he bellowed his anger like Jeremiah cursing Jerusalem, or like a sick cow mourning its kidnaped young. …
He grinned and knee-patted and back-slapped; and few of his visitors, once they had talked with him, failed to look upon him as their Little Father and to support him forever. . .. The few who did fail, most of them newspapermen, disliked the smell of him more than before they had met him. . .. Even they, by the unusual spiritedness and color of their attacks upon him, kept his name alive in every column. …
By contrast, here’s Windrip’s Republican opponent running for President:
Walt Trowbridge conducted his campaign as placidly as though he were certain to win. … The conspicuous fault of the Jeffersonian Party, like the personal fault of Senator Trowbridge, was that it represented integrity and reason, in a year when the electorate hungered for frisky emotions…
Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers. © 1934.
I read this (again) because we watched “Saving Mr. Banks” on Netflix which gave me a new perspective on this childhood favorite. My reaction, as a child, to the Mary Poppins movie was kind of the same as the author’s: Mary Poppins was supposed to be much more stern than Julie Andrews portrayed her. It must be said that in the book Mary Poppins is a gaslighter, telling the children they didn’t see what they saw.
Educated by Tara Westover. © 2018. Memoir. Everyone has raved about this book, but I found it difficult to take. This book has a Class A gaslighter in it. I read it for book club, but then was not able to attend book club. It’s a good book-club book - there’s a lot here to discuss.
Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III. Washington, D.C. March 2019
A.k.a. The Mueller Report
I think I have never read a written work with so many footnotes (2,375, an average of 6 per page of text). My main conclusion is that Mueller is a wimp and that the Trump Campaign and Administration, i.e. the Trump Family, has zero regard for US democracy. This time the gaslighting is done by the POTUS to his own staff. For more on the Mueller report, see my Mueller Report Haiku.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#4 in the series). Not my favorite Harry Potter book, the first time around. Nor this second time. It reads like a movie script, with very little character development, I felt. This one gets distinctly bloodier than the earlier books in the series.