Literary Comfort Food

I want to continue blogging about some books I’ve started: Letters of a Civil War Nurse by Cornelia Hancock, The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard, Maine Memories by Elizabeth Coatsworth, and Arundel by Kenneth Roberts.

But after my trip to Chicago and my mom’s memorial service, I’ve been working at getting back to boring old normal, so I’ve reverted to literary comfort food, and for me that means books I read before that I enjoyed.

Right now I’m rereading my Sue Grafton books, because Kinsey Milhonne and her “little kingdom” in Santa Theresa suit me right down to the ground.

We’re kindred spirits, Kinsey and I. We both like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. We both have elderly landllords that we’re very close to. And we both treasure our solitude, Kinsey and I.

As I have said before, Sue Grafton, in the Kinsey Mihonne series, has provided a valuable counterpoint to the American deification of the family as the be-all and end-all of virtue, love, and happiness, a stereotype that is contrary to all the evidence we see before us every day.

If someone is murdered, it’s better than even money the killer is someone they were married to or ‘in a relationship with.’

Almost every book in the Kinsey Milhonne series revolves around destructive family dynamics that have led to murder and lifelong misery for most of the characters, all seen through the eyes of Kinsey Milhonne, a woman with no family to speak of, whose parents were killed in a car crash when she was five and who was raised by her Aunt Gin, who has passed away.

Kinsey has found a family in Santa Theresa: her landlord Henry, a retired baker, and Rosie, who runs the Hungarian restaurant, but like any family, they have… dynamics, and what keeps them together is love. And sometimes they hide it or withhold it; that happens in the best of families, but when push comes to shove they make each other’s lives happier.

I think that’s the true measure of a family.