Having concluded the pope’s encyclical, we returned to Zoellner’s transiberian express journey on Train, and quickly concluded with chapters on moving freight by rail in Peru and moving passengers by high speed rail in Japan.
Last week we began reading Andrea Mays’s The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio.
We have put aside Zoellner’s Train (he was narrating his trip on the Trans-Siberian Express) in order to read at table the Holy Father’s encyclical, Laudato si, “On Care for our Common Home.”
We are currently reading at table Tom Zoellner’s Train: Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World – from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief.
Last week we finished reading Living in the House of God, and began to read Lev Golinkin’s memoir: A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka. The vodka refers to eight crates of it that his family fled with as they left the USSR in 1989. Bottles of vodka were used to bribe officials along the way to the West. (This is no doubt the most unusual title for a book we have read at table.)
While a sad story of living and leaving the Soviet Union as a Ukrainian Jewish family, Golinkin has an amusing narrative style. Consider this passage from early on in the memoir:
“Parades were the gold standard of the Soviet Union. Worker’s parades, women’s parades, Revolution parades, the Great Patriotic War parades, we had them all. We had perfected parades; we had the best parades in the whole damn world. St. Patrick’s Day? Thanksgiving? Please. Macy’s had balloons. We had intercontinental ballistic missiles rolling through Red Square.”
One of my favorite authors was recently referenced in a monastic text we are reading at table, Margaret Malone’s Living in the House of God. In the section on solitude, Malone cites a passage from the literary critic John Bayley, describing his marriage to the great novelist Iris Murdoch:
“So married life began. And the joys of solitude. No contradiction was involved… To feel oneself held and cherished and accompanied, and yet to be alone. To be closely and physically entwined, and yet feel solitude’s friendly presence, as warm and undesolating as contiguity itself.”
As is our custom during the Triduum, we put aside regular table reading, and read the four passion accounts from the Gospels in sequence.
We are currently reading Living in the House of God: Monastic Essays by Margaret Malone, SGS.