Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Being Happily Morbid

Riddle: Why wasn’t Bertha put in prison after killing dozens of people?

I’ve been rediscovering Agatha Christie.  Her stories have a deceptive simplicity.  The characters seem so transparent, obvious cliches.  Her writing is clarity itself.  Yet to tell the story in your own words makes its complexity and deviousness suddenly much clearer.  What a clever mind she had!  Read one of her books, especially the earlier ones, then go back immediately and read it again.  She drops her clues into place so openly it is amazing how you missed it on the first reading.  I’m reading Murder at the Vicarage.  I first read it so many years ago I’ve forgotten who the murderer is – and I’m baffled.  I know the archaelogist isn’t who he says he is, I remember that.  And I think the beautiful woman new in town, Mrs. LeStrange, is a red herring.  I think it’s the doctor, but I can’t figure out his motive.  What fun!

On the other hand, she makes my own stories seem so clumsy.

Maybe because of the long, chilly, rainy spring, I went on a fruit binge.  Yesterday I bought strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a pineapple, and bananas and chopped them up into a mix I had for dessert last night.  No added sugar, just the fruit.  It was so good!  The low-carb diet I’ve been on meant rare and frugal servings of fruit for a long time, so that was probably another reason my appetite demanded a revolution.  I’m sure my tummy was surprised, but stood up to it very well, and I feel happy and content this morning.  But I’m putting the leftover fruit into the freezer.  One breakout is okay, but the next one should be put off for a while.

I’ve got an important-number birthday coming up in October and am planning a themed party for it.  But the number is a big one, and it’s making me think about things like wills and funerals.  Not in a sad way, but in a businesslike, even celebratory, way.  After all, I’ve been writing traditional mysteries, in which those topics are often central, for many years, so the spillover into real life comes naturally.  And, rather strangely, one of my younger sisters has been doing the same thing.  We’ve been trading good-humored recommendations about who will get her good jewelry and my collection of medieval coins.  What do you think of pre-paid funerals?  And who would you leave your books to? 

Answer:  She was a hurricane.


Linda O. Johnston said...

It's been a while since I've read any Agatha Christie, Monica, but you're inspiring me to read her again! And I'm one of those who doesn't want to think too much about pre-planning... although I do.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, my mother belonged to the Illinois Memorial Association or at least I think it was called something like that. They had a record of her wishes and also put me in touch with a low cost mortuary. My mother wanted to be cremated. The mortuary didn't try to sell me anything. It was all very reasonable including having her ashes delivered to the crypt at the Unitarian church she'd attended. I think making advance plans is a good idea.