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Ducks, Newburyport
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Week 4, Day 3 - loc 15786, p957UK/p947US (ish)

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Angel Belsey (angelbelsey) | 119 comments Mod
Stopping at "and instead she ends up in the sticks having to smell gangrene all the time," which is right before a lion interlude.

message 2: by Angel (last edited Aug 19, 2020 05:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angel Belsey (angelbelsey) | 119 comments Mod
We stopped yesterday deep in the heart of The Fugitive, so that’s where we start again today, this time thinking of similarities with it and other films. (And these little recaps are getting longer, as more and more is happening.)

Narrator is struggling with her worth as a mother and housewife; she has started family therapy and thinks it’s just someone telling her what a lousy mother she is. She thinks about Amish women again and how they are happy with what they do because they are valued—

—meanwhile, one of her vendors, Peekaboo, owes her for TWENTY TWO pies, which would be enough for me to say NO MORE PIES. And it is for Narrator, too. Just thinking about Peekaboo is enough to make her pretty angry, and her stomach gets upset and she realizes she’s depressed and she starts crying. She thinks about all the things that have upset her recently, from a documentary about breast implants to seeing a guy yell at his wife for letting the dog put its paws on his trousers. Touchingly, Jake comes to the bathroom where she is and asks her if she is ok.

Then: the lioness. She seems to be coming closer and closer to humans, wandering around suburbs looking for her babies. Jim is still with her. They are both hungry.

Back to Narrator. She has been to family therapy with Stacy. First the therapists told her that they won’t be talking about Narrator’s dreams, which has got to be a blow for this woman, honestly. Then Stacy went and said that Narrator and Leo got married without her permission and then took Stacy’s playhouse away and gave it to the chickens. On the face of it, yeah, ok, that looks bad, but the context! The context!

Narrator pleads innocence to herself—she just can’t remember the stuff Stacy wants to talk about, and family therapy is about looking at stuff you’ve done in the past, which we know is not Narrator’s strength.

Despite that, she does start thinking about the past, about how lovely it was having Stacy, and how they used to visit Abby (staying at a local inn). She admits to herself—not for the first time—that when she got together with Leo she left Stacy out and assumed too much that because Leo was a great guy it would all be fine.

Narrator thinks about her parenting skills and says, yeah, I left you out a bit and made mistakes, but I didn’t, like, drive you off a bridge or anything, and anyway, you say you need your mom, but you certainly don’t act like it. She thinks again about her relationship with her own parents, and what they would make of her life now.

When Narrator told the therapists about Frank, Stacy went quiet, and it occurred to Narrator that Frank might have lied to Stacy about their breakup. Anyway, apparently both Narrator and Stacy couldn’t get out of family therapy fast enough, and they got to the mall as fast as they could.

Jake said that he saw the lioness the night Jim went missing. Narrator is horrified by the idea that it could have been there, and she wonders if it ate Jim. She knows the shelter will never let them adopt another dog. The authorities have hired a Cherokee person to track the lioness (well, half-Cherokee, and he grew up Italian in the Bronx, and he’s a wildlife officer).

Speaking of the lioness, we are back to her now. She’s having some crazy dreams about calling the rain down and controlling the lake that results from it, killing all humans where possible. I mean, I get it. She’s still got Jim; they’re hanging out now. But as they are continuing their hunt for her babies, the Cherokee wildlife officer shoots her with a tranquilliser dart (the previous shot was an actual bullet, I’m starting to think, since she is still injured by it—but maybe she was just injured by the crash), and, when Jim protests, gives the dog an affectionate scritch.

In Narrator’s world, she’s back on the local history and environmentalism, and Peekaboo still hasn’t paid up for those TWENTY TWO pies! What a bunch of jerks.

Still, there are worse things that can happen—and Narrator runs us through them in gruesome detail: murder, child murder, baby murder, racially-motivated murder, rape, fraud, domestic murder, and then she gets into a real rut: everything is stupid, and there is no room in the whole of Ohio for her needs, and she wants her Mommy.

Cut to lioness. She is caged by humans, whom she loathes, but to her surprise they do not hurt her, but instead try to feed her. She detests them still. Fair enough!

Narrator, meanwhile, seems a little brighter now, and she is relieved that the lioness has been caught. Is there something in the fact that Narrator’s Daddy and Stacy, both the family members she has the most complicated relationships with, were born during thunderstorms? maybe. And then the lioness is called Mishipeshu, meaning “underwater panther”—she was also caught in a storm.

Heeeyyy but guess whaaaat! The lioness is going to the Big Cat division of Columbus Zoo, which is where her babies are! (And just to summarise the next little lioness interlude, she is at the zoo and she haaaaates it, she hates the people, and she feels unsafe and alone.)

Narrator sees Jim in a news clip with the Cherokee tracker. She doesn’t think she should claim him: he looks ecstatic to be with the tracker. Instead, she thinks, maybe they should take one of Cathy’s dog’s puppies.

Toward the end we get a bunch of Narrator’s dreams, as ever, but one is particularly interesting to me: there is an isolated mountainside community dreaming up ever more arcane ways to avoid getting bored. Narrator thinks their clifftop life should be exciting enough, but they are all used to the danger they live in. Narrator herself, of course, is isolated and constantly keeping herself busy to avoid too much emotion, though at the same time she also thinks the precariousness of modern parenthood should be enough to keep her on her toes. Then, indeed, she runs through a litany of things that can happen to kids: lions eating them, toddlers getting accidentally killed, toddlers getting deliberately killed, kids in terrible accidents, kids in deliberate “accidents”, kids killed by accidental hammer blows, etc.

Ronny comes back; Narrator tells him she’s busy (she's being Domestic and making Lion Cookies with the Children which I believe is Important for this part) and he huffs off. BUT THEN HE COMES BACK IN WITH HIS GUN AND THIS IS WHERE WE ARE ENDING, WHAT!

An aside: Is the “dog do hanging in trees” thing a genuine US experience too? This is a thing that I see a LOT in the UK and which is referred to a LOT here, but I never knew it was a thing until I came to the UK. Then again, I’m from a rural area where dogs do whatever they want wherever they want, and nobody is going to be picking it up, tying it in a plastic bag, and throwing it into a tree. So I suppose Yankees may have a different experience.

Homework: Ryan's Daughter was mentioned once, briefly. Why not read Ryan’s Daughter: the inside story?

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