Saturday, April 08, 2017

Birds of Subterranean Habit

Both Dr. Theresa and Bill Boyle love the novel MY ANTONIA, but neither has been able to persuade me to read it until Bill happened to mention the other night that there is "good owl stuff" in it. All right! But the problem is that Megan Abbott and I are on a strict diet of "movie people" biographies and autobiographies. We have read several in a row! Including some I have not told you about because there are no owls in them. We just finished Howard Hughes - very depressing - and on Monday we're set to take up Angela Carter. Wait! I know what you are thinking. Angela Carter is not a "movie person." But our reasoning, if I recall it correctly, is that they made a movie based on her works - THE COMPANY OF WOLVES - so we're going to let her slide by on that account. And I peeked at the first paragraph of the bio and it all starts with Little Red Riding Hood, which ties right in, so I think we're good. So in the meantime I have a couple of days to read MY ANTONIA and I was like, "Please, God, let me hurry up and get to the owls." And there they were! Our narrator and his pal Antonia "watch the brown earth-owls fly home in the late afternoon and go down to their nests underground with the [prairie] dogs." I was like, my word! What manner of owls are these? And as I sat and pondered it, I realized they were none other than the selfsame burrowing owls I heard about at Off Square Books one time, when the author bragged and boasted of stalking them with a shirtless George Plimpton. Go to bookstores, you'll learn something! "We felt sorry for the owls," says Cather's narrator. That's because rattlesnakes slither around and eat their eggs! Easy pickings! And "we used to wonder a great deal about these birds of subterranean habit." And "It was always mournful to see them come flying home at sunset and disappear under the earth."