CATCHING UP #2, cont’d.

Two days ago, on her way to the post office, a Barter’s Point Road neighbor, stopped to say hello. (Barter’s Point Road is what Sea Street becomes after it meets Spruce Lane, three houses up the hill from Roseledge Books.) We discussed Edith Wharton and Louis Auchincloss, mostly Louis Auchincloss. “I’m quite sure he’s related to Jacqueline Kennedy,” she said. I was pretty sure, too.

“That means,” Scott pointed out, “Louis Auchincloss’ books, e.g. Skinny Island, are tied to Tenants Harbor because Caroline Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedey’s daughter who would, therefore, also be somehow related to Louis Auchincloss, spoke at St. George School in 1980 in support of her uncle, Ted Kennedy, who was running for President. So author-to-relative-to-daughter-to-local site and event would be four degrees of separation.” Maine friend Scott is the best player of “how many degrees of separation are there between any book you mention and Tenants Harbor.” If I sell all three of my twenty-year-old paperback copies of Skinny Island, I’d have a Tenants Harbor bestseller, too.


Fig. #28. Already familiar-looking, new rock wall on Sea Street for walkers to enjoy on way to Post Office.

Speaking of which (TH bestsellers), I, in TH, talked to Wayne (in Hawaii but who has been to TH at least twice), who was reading and liking a lot Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map. Well, I’m reading it, too, and like it so much, I sent it to Charlie (in Seattle, but he started reading it in TH) which is the magic number 3 for a TH bestseller, too. Our reasons for liking the book may differ, but I like that a smart educated-generalist is attacking a riddle — the London cholera epidemic of 1854 — and writing well of his multidisciplinary efforts to solve it, and the long term implications of what he found out about “disease, cities, and scientific inquiry. Every problem needs able generalists attacking its problems, if only to keep the academics awake.

Thirty-seven years ago, my uncle John, when asked if he wanted to read a dissertation, said, “No; researchers too often put the obvious under the microscope and come up with common sense, and I have plenty of that.” I agreed with him then, and, if my reaction to Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map is any indication, I agree with him still. And at 94, my uncle John still has plenty of common sense.

The webcam is on, but a bit blurry with rain.

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