Breaking the Silence, Fup by Jim Dodge

こんにちは みんなさん! (Hello all!)
Gosh I have not been around for a while, haven’t I? Almost feels like I need to learn all this blogging thing all over again! See, the problem is, truthfully, I have not been able to finish a single book these couple of months (except for one which I’m gonna talk a bit later). I kinda blame the tube trips. My tube trip now takes about 25 minutes one way, as opposed to 45 minutes back in Sydney. And I find it really hard to sink into a narrative book in that little time frame. Also, I’m seated on the journey to work, but NOT on the way back, because it is soooo crowded. In fact –this is a new thing for me– they sometimes close the gates to the tubes for overcrowding! So people need to wait on the street until the crowds inside ease out a bit and the gates reopened. (I have since found a solution to the gate blocking problem. Instead of leaving from the office at 6:30, I leave at 6:40 and that 10 minutes makes a difference.) But still, the tubes are crazy packed that I more often than not need to stand up. Standing up in full warm tube does not exactly make a conducive reading environment, does it?

So instead of reading a book, I read the free newspapers. Now the free papers are kinda new to me too. In Australia we have one free paper, and that’s only in the evening, only available in the city area. The free paper MX is quite thin and mostly contains unimportant things, like magazine in a form of newspaper: gossip, light news, horoscope. But in London, there are one free paper in the morning from suburban area, and one in the evening. There is also a free magazine every Wednesday which I quite like (Stylist). The papers here are quite thick, and feel almost like real paid newspapers (actually I never pay for newspapers, so I don’t know what they’re really like). Okay, after a couple months, I started to notice that they contain mostly either murders or what Kate is wearing that day, but other random bits and pieces are perfect for the rather short tube rides I have.

Apart from the free papers, I read travel books, photography books, Japanese language learning books, I listen to podcasts. At home I read cookbooks and watch movies on my laptop (no TV yet). Anything but sinking into long period of reading. Especially at home, there’s far too much distraction for me to settle. Therefore I find non fiction to be a lot easier for dipping in and out. I get frustrated with fiction, with how slow my progress is by reading only a few pages in the morning.  I started a few books and have not finished any. I don’t want to name names, because I think it’s me, not the books!

Now going back to the one I did finish. There’s good reason for that. It’s only 89 pages long, with a few illustrations. The book is tiny. Has almost no weight. So on a good day I could even read it on one hand standing up. And it was given lent to me by a friend before I left Sydney. I think it’s very sweet to lend a book to someone before they go on a long journey. Sort of like saying, we’ll see each other again. (Though in my case he also wrote his address on the last page of the book so that I could send it back…) He asked me to REALLY return it because he can’t find it anywhere else. (Actually that part is not true either because I can see it in amazon.) I said, well what if I don’t return it back. After all I’m going to the other part of the globe. He can’t chase me for it. He said, “Oh you will. I’ve lent it to dozens of people. The book always comes back.”

So, that’s the story how the book came to be. It is Fup by Jim Dodge, an American, set in California. I’m not quite sure why he thought I would like it. It has nothing to do with where I’m going/am. It’s about a cranky old grandaddy and his grandson Tiny, a gentle giant young man, living in the farm. Grandaddy is obsessed with home brewed whisky and Tiny with making fences. And then there is Fup, a big duck, who is part of the family.

I wasn’t quite sure about the whole granddaddy grandson thing at the beginning, but I loooved it when the duck has come into the picture. The dynamic between the three characters is so endearing. I had many grins and laughs and heartwarming moments. At the end I’m still not sure what the whole point is, but I think it’s a lovely little book and I know why my friend liked it. It’s got him written all over it.

So, thanks Matt!

4 stars
1997, 89 pp

“You know, I’ve seen 30,000 sunsets, and no two that I can remember have ever been the same. What more can we possibly want?” ~ Seven Moons, p67

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