Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I was planning to see old friends in California and attend the annual Literary Conference to meet authors and pick up ideas. My airline ticket is still outstanding and I won’t be using it because the conference will be virtual this year. I do plan to log on but it will not be the same.
Reading is not the same. When I can muster the motivation to open a book, it’s more likely a sequel to the Bridgerton saga or the wonderful fable by Jane Smiley – Perestroika in Paris – recommended by my good friend. And I read much more slowly, but perhaps the story of the horse, the dog, the raven, the rat, and a couple of ducks in Paris – and the map inside the cover – was one I was reluctant to see end. How else could I vicariously be in Paris, and will I ever be there in person again?
The newsletter announcing the virtual literary conference had a few recommendations for books, and one title inspired me to look for it in Libby. Neil Gaiman, author of so many of my favorites – The Good Omen, Coraline, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and more – delivered another gem in 2013 I missed – Fortunately, the Milk.
The story is simple: Dad goes out to get some milk for his kids, taking a long time, but eventually returning with a carton. When asked why he took so long, he tells them a fantastical tale involving a spaceship of green globby aliens. But it was the first paragraph that grabbed me – possibly because buying cartons of milk has become the bane of my existence these days when I fully expect to meet virus laden aliens in the grocery store. It could be my story.
“There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toasties, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate…”
Maybe I’ll read a little Gaiman today and pretend it’s green globby aliens who’ve taken over the world. Oh wait, they have.