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Friday, May 8, 2015
2:06 pm edt
Besides Earl and Opal in “Pickles” (I have neighbors
who look and often act just like them!), Maxine is my favorite cartoon character. Created by the geniuses at Hallmark, she
is the humorously satirical epitome of elderly crankiness. I even have a 2015 Maxine Weekly/Monthly Planner which, so far,
has kept me on track for various myriad appointments and activities.
So, today, as I started to enter
a few more items for this month, I noticed that the weekly pages for May are missing. Say what? No (Maxine) joke. Yep…’tis
true. Except for just one page with the first five days of this month, the calendar blithely jumps right into the first week
of June. There are no weekly pages for May. Nothing. Nada. Egads…
So, now, for the net twenty-five days,
I am literally and figuratively at a loss…Literally and virtually in a May Daze…
In case you were
unaware, yesterday, May 7th, was the 100th anniversary of the torpedo sinking by German of the
largest and fastest ocean liner of its day, the Lusitania. Part of the Greyhound class of Cunard ships, she was able
to cross the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Liverpool in less than five…almost three… days. Bigger and faster,
even, than the ill-fated Titanic, which sank 103 years ago on this last April 15th after striking an iceberg.
Both tragedies have a profound affect on me…I am totally fascinated by all things nautical, anyway. To
wit, I have a decent collection of Titanic memorabilia including a commemorative yellow crew cap,
a replica third-class coffee mug, and a myriad collection of films, books – both fiction and non-fiction. Not to mention
total recall of the urban legend about my father’s supposed namesake caught in the boiler bowels as a greaser and part-time
stoker when the then Star Line “star” quickly sank to its cold, watery grave…
But I had scant
knowledge about the Lusitania , except for a few minor historical footnotes – even though it was one of the
prime reasons America entered World War I – until this past weekend when I picked up a copy of the just recently published
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Eric Larson. A totally non-fiction account of the tragedy, it reads, like all of Larson’s previous books,
like an exquisitely finely tuned novel. I just can’t put it down…
Larson, one of the few authors
who thoroughly researches his topics and writes about them with exhaustingly rich and vibrant detail, has taken this, his
seventh excursion into the realm of the most bizarre episodes of history, into the extreme outer reaches of total realism.
His previously most famous and highly acclaimed Devil in the White City and In the Garden of the Beasts
are two of my most favorite Larson offerings to pure literary non-fiction…surpassing even the most erudite, readable,
and assiduously famed David McCullough who just recently released his own latest, The Wright Brothers (which I hope
to read soon and post about in the not so distant future).
Larson, is a master at capturing the salient minutia
of every day life…the captivating essences of each of the “characters” that precipitated the events he
explores And the sinking of the Lusitania is no exception. Little known background facts are brought to the forefront;
nebulous reasons are explained; and historical figures are brought back to life in a writing style so exquisite it literally,
if not physically, actually brings the reader onboard.
For this month, this is the perfect corresponding
read to help me through my ditsy daze of May.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel
of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.