May 31, 2007 10:01 AM- soap opera soapbox

When a week has flown by with nary a post, there really is no recourse but to plug-in the old standby: a ?mimi-esque? chunks and headlines update.

(And yes, there were chunks, although fortunately for me, they all occurred in the back seat of our cousin?s car as the tummy-challenged troop made the long journey from New Jersey to us.)

Our neighbors came over for dinner. (No, not those neighbors.)

At some point the conversation turned to Gilmanton, which is the town where they lived for years before moving to our neck of the woods. You see, Gilmanton is the town where Grace Metalious lived and so there?s really no mentioning it without bringing up Peyton Place. Mrs. Neighbor told us matter-of-factly that Grace Metalious never wrote the book. In fact, it was some other woman in town who wrote it and put Grace up as a front.

Despite the authority with which this ?urban legend? was told to me, I wasn?t buying. But, seeing as I had never read Peyton Place, I didn?t feel I could really comment. So, on Saturday I brought home a copy and read it cover to cover.

It really affected me. Not sure why. I guess I've bandied the phrase ?Peyton Place? around as much as the next person without realizing how any concept I had of the story was some melodramatic, shallow soap opera. Without a doubt, the writing is uneven and it has its fair share of poorly written melodramatic scenes?but there?s also much more to it than I expected.

Did you know that the reason this book ever got to print was due to two women?

As the book was categorically rejected by a series of publishers, it seems highly unlikely it would have ever seen the light of day had Kitty Messner not inherited her husband?s small New York publishing house, Julian Messner. Kitty read the story in one sitting and bought it. Of course then she had the task of getting a reprint house to back her. Again, there were no takers except for Helen Meyer, the director of Dell Publishing.

((NOTE: Still, even a female publisher wouldn't let the original story of a father getting his daughter pregnant and Grace was forced to change it to a step-father-- you listening Woody?))

Do you think these two women responded to an honest look at the struggles women faced in a town where men had all the power? Do you think they resonated with a story that put issues like abortion, incest, illegitimacy, homosexuality, and women who enjoy sex at the center? Although there are good and bad characters on both sides of the gender lines, the book holds a patriarchal society up to the light and yes, no surprise, it?s ugly. Of course, more than fifty years later?when any 10 year old can turn on a television or a computer to see people having sex, it seems quaint. And yet, when a woman?s right to choose to have a safe and legal abortion is under constant and serious attack, it seems incredible that so much of what Metalious underlined with such dark and scathing strokes, is still alive and well in this culture.

Wow. And here I was sitting down to write the cliff notes of my week. Guess not.

Because another piece of the book that was unexpected for me was how the natural world was presented.

?She fancied that the trees were saying, ?Hello, Allison. Hello, Allison,? and she smiled. In one moment of time, precious with a lack of self consiousness, she held her arms wide and called, ?hello! Oh, hello, everything beautiful!?

She ran to the edge of the field and sat down, resting her back against a wide-trunked tree, and then looked back on the field of goldenrod. Slowly, a wonderful feeling of being the only living person in the whole world filled her. Everything was hers, and there was no one to spoil it for her, no one to make anything less peaceful and true and beautiful than it was right at this moment. She sat for a long time not moving, letting the feeling of happiness settle into a comforting warmth in the pit of her stomach, and when she stood up and began to walk through the woods again, she touched the trees and bushes in her passing as if caressing the hands of old friends. At last she came back to the pavement and the wooden board that said Road?s End. She looked down at the town, the feeling of joy beginning to dissolve within her. She whirled around, away from the town trying to recapture the sensation that was so warm, so lovely, but it would not come back. She felt heavy, as if she suddenly weighed two hundred pounds, and as tired as if she had been running for hours. She turned and started down the hill toward Peyton Place.?

Anyway?I?m not recommending it. I?m just saying, wow, what ovaries all three of them had to get it published and how sad, that even today, people in the town would dismiss Grace as merely a drunk and that no way could she have ever written that book. Crazy, non?

So, our cousins were up for the long weekend. I covered the dining room table with art supplies and the girls were amused for days upon days?which was good.

T?s favorite food in the world? Dumplings. This past weekend he got a tutorial on how to make the real thing and boy howdy?were they good. And? I believe there are great, nay a vast number of homemade dumplings in my future.

We are off again this weekend for graduation, birthday parties, etc?must be June.

I?ll be back because I have a whole NOTHER book to tell you about--and yes, I?m looking at you Miss Doves.

a la prochaine

got 2 cents?

•  •  •  •

jenny says:
oh wow...now i feel like dumplings! those look so so delicious.
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

Janeen says:
I was going to comment on how adorable those girls are, but then came the dumplings and I can think of nothing else. Yum.
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

lizardek says:
We read Peyton Place a couple of years ago for our book group, none of us had read it before. It sure made for a great discussion!
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

bella says:
Yummy, those dumplings look so good. There was a big story on Grace Mitalious/Peyton Place in Vanity Fair a few years ago. Interesting stuff. Have a good weekend.
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

Sam says:
While the Peyton Place stuff is very interesting indeed, and maybe I should read it whilst I wait for this baby to arrive - and eep! at those precious artsy little girls - I am completely distracted by your GORGEOUS mixing bowl. Beautiful. I want to mix a thousand mixy things in it.
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

Claire says:
I want to be amused by art supplies and dumplings at your dining table...
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

catherine says:
Peyton Place...I haven't read that, like I've never read A Good Man is Hard to Find by F. O'Connor...and started reading just the other night because all that's left in the house to read is Grapes of Wrath (uh huh...I dunno, but I didn't take no English Honors in HS like me sistas did), and Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins - so I have the three that I've been trading off because not one of these can be sanely read all in one sitting...ok, I'll get to my point...reading A Good Man is Hard to Find for me is a lot like the experience you've had with PP. I wouldn't recommend it - it some ways her writing is so chaotic - she focuses on metaphor and short and intense descriptions and in other areas leaves the reader with nothing, and every single story is completely depressing and faintly irritating, but that was her point, I get it. The issues though written about the 60s are the same as they were then - the more things change the more they stay the same, no? ...but on to your photos! but, pray tell, where are the babies during all this dumpling making??? :)
posted on: May 31

•  •  •  •

hel says:
Wonderful. All of it
posted on: June 01

•  •  •  •

Molly says:
Lovely pictures, and I love the exploration of Peyton Place!
posted on: June 01

•  •  •  •

richard says:
Question: If you had to do it over again would you use clear glass or milk glass in your kitchen cabinets?
posted on: June 01

•  •  •  •

bp says:
wow Richard-- that's a great question. We never even thought about different kinds of glass. Now I'm looking at it and thinking, hmmm-- but if we wanted to, it's an easy thing to replace. right now, I want to get about another 100 projects finished so the chances of me going back to redo anything are slim. but, thanks for the thoughts-- I'll definitely keep it in mind.
posted on: June 02

•  •  •  •

tinker says:
Your photos make me want to play, too! How fun! As for Peyton Place, it is sad to think that so many of those same issues still face women - but there have been inroads, and though it may have been pop fiction, it did shine a spotlight on some of those issues at a time when polite society simply didn't discuss them. I hope that would bring some comfort to its author in the afterlife, despite any aspersions still casting about. Boy, am I longwinded tonight. The dumplings look delicious. Enjoy your whirlwind weekend!
posted on: June 03

•  •  •  •

melanie says:
those dumplings look amazing...i have never read peyton place, but it definitely sounds interesting
posted on: June 03

•  •  •  •

Reya Mellicker says:
I've never read Peyton Place, but I remember when I finally got around to reading The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, another story I'd seen in movie form but hadn't really connected with. It's so powerful, wow! Great pics...happy weekend (now past). Happy summer!
posted on: June 04

•  •  •  •

Stephanie says:
Kudos to you, Ms. Thang for using "Ovaries" instead of the usual other round fleshy description! And dumplings- scrumdumptialicious! Are you keen on shriong recipes on the ole' blog?
posted on: June 04

•  •  •  •

Sorry, comments are now closed.










  all material on this site © 2001 bluepoppy.com design by omworks