A Sucker for Small Good Things

[The following is an excerpt from an extended book review of Lester Goran’s book “Bing Crosby’s Last Song.” The book review is written more like a creative essay / short story than a book review. If you are interested in reading the entire review, you can read it here: http://daniellclausen.booklikes.com/post/1170535/lester-goran-s-last-song-a-sentimental-book-review-of-bing-crosby-s-last-song %5D


I’m a sucker for small good things, both in the world and in fiction. For this reason, I found this scene to be my favorite. It describes some of Daly and Jessie’s last days together. The relationship between Daly and Jessie is perhaps one of the sweetest and most enjoyable ones in the book:


He [Daly Racklin] went to St. Agnes weekly for Mass and with Jessie to the Carnegie International Art Gallery on Forbes and described the paintings to her. They walked in the presence of the Manets and he stood with her before the water lilies and sought words to make real for her the immensity of the artist’s vision, only flowers on a pond after all. He kept his voice low. He felt people listened as he talked, and he and she were not a show. She listened intently, nodding. She remembered the paintings. Explaining them, choosing the tone of voice, inflections, and exact phrases, he had never been closer to paint and brush and canvas as he bent low to murmur into Jessie’s ear the lines and colors of genius. The paintings achieved an importance and he with them a size as he translated them into images in her mind. He kissed her often. She had moved him, as always, in their being together, into somehow feeling more important than he was without her. [p. 262]


It’s a single paragraph that could be a story unto itself. It’s not the ending of the book, but it’s a kind of happy ending for Daly, and perhaps for Lester too. I came to this review to speak both good and ill of the dead and to make words living again. To seek a kind of closure that leaves books of his open for all. Perhaps, I have done that. Perhaps not, but there are Daly and Jessie together in an art museum, in love in 1968. And here I am, on a Saturday in 2015 — and I get to live there too.
Perhaps that makes Lester feel more important than he would be without me (or without you).


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