Thursday, December 9, 2010

Running into Someone

It seems to happen to us more this time of year. You know how it is: you’re in Costco staring at an immense bag of lettuce heads wondering if you’ll ever use enough to justify it, or you’re in Neiman Marcus trying to make a rational decision about perfume for your wife, (both equally daunting and impossible tasks) when you look up and see someone looking directly back at you. You don’t know who it is but you know that both of you are trying to determine if it is the person you haven’t seen for years. Then there’s the moment of recognition and you think, it’s been so long, she (or he) looks so fit and prosperous. Or you think, she (or he), has really aged, how is they’ve aged when I haven’t? But then, of course you realize you have, even more.

You frantically catch up. And finally, she (or he) asks what have you been up to that she or he wouldn’t know about.

“Tournament next weekend in fact.”

All of which brings me back to the nearly ten years we spent in Boston, (where I didn’t fence but should have). Its preferred vision of itself as a tough town is deserved. When I think of all the things I enjoyed about it: learning to sail in Boston Harbor, working with very bright people, sea-kayaking (once) out to Georges Island, Thanksgiving dinner at our house in the wintry woods 10 miles west of town, Saturday morning breakfast in one of the large hotels followed by lengthy and lazy bookstore haunting, and the list goes on, nevertheless, there was one thing that was particularly memorable on several different levels.

While we were there, we discovered the fiction of Dennis Lehane. This was before he’d written Mystic River, when he was known almost exclusively for his Patrick Kenzy / Angie Gennaro mysteries. I can’t think of a contemporary novelist who’s better at capturing the diversity, complexity and uniqueness of a particular place. Besides being a damn good story teller, his novels are paeans to Boston and reading them while we were living there made living there richer, deeper and just more fun. In the late 90’s, after Gone Baby, Gone, Lehane left Angie and Patrick for different times and different characters. I missed them.

So there we were, just last Saturday, having stopped on a whim at the King’s English Bookstore, (one of the best in Utah) and who should we run into, whom we haven’t seen or heard from in years? Angie Gennaro and Patrick Kenzy. Lehane’s new novel Moonlight Mile returns to them. And how are they ten years later? Richer, deeper, more ironic and complicated, and so even more fun than they were before. I could have devoured the book that afternoon but it’s way too good to be devoured. I’m pacing myself.

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