Monday, January 14, 2019

Helen Eustis, my mother and a very good writer

Yesterday was, somehow, an apostasy day -- a day contrary to what otherwise might have been assumed.

First, the New England Patriots (the home football team for the state I live in) did what was expected and beat the Los Angeles Chargers 41-28 and I really didn't care. What I cared about was the Kansas City Chiefs which I think of as the most interesting and fun team in major league football: The Chiefs beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-13.

This sets up a Chiefs/Patriots match-up for the National Football League championship next Sunday ... and I'm rooting for the Chiefs. I have decided it is probably better not to announce this to my neighbors. If anyone wants to bet, I'm ripe for the picking and will put my money behind the Chiefs.

The second bit of 'apostasy' concerns a book my mother wrote and I had never read, "The Captains and the Kings Depart," a book of short stories.

Yesterday, in search for something to pre-sleep read, my hand landed on this book. My mother died at 98 Jan. 11, 2015, and still I had not read the book which lists 1943 as the first of several copyright dates. You'd think I might have read it, but I hadn't. In some ways, I think I was afraid I might be disappointed. I had read "The Horizontal Man" and "The Fool Killer" and "Mr. Death and the Red-headed Woman" (books she had written) but not this tide-me-over collection.

I approached the first page gingerly ... what if it sucked?

I read the first 'chapter,' "The Good Days and the Bad." It was, to my mind and leaving aside the author, astoundingly good. I mean really, really good. Not my style or subject matter, perhaps, but ...
Helen Eustis, early 1940's
but it blew my socks off when it came to good writing.... her love of Willa Cather, the Brontë sisters and, no doubt, Henry James and early Thornton Wilder and the brothers Grimm. No wonder she could be a pain in the ass ... she was just that good. She deserved, from where I sit, whatever podium she may have felt she was her due. As others might not, I could smell my mother in those pages ...

How about them apples -- a really good writer in the family ... really good. Probably too smart by half, but still... this was a person who knew her specialty from muzzle to butt plate.

Odd to think it now and not sooner.

1 comment:

  1. So now we know where your talent comes from. My family also has several good writers and singers - but I'm only decent at writing 😀