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lgpiper

Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

A Good Death
Christopher R. Cox
The Black Cargo
John P. Marquand
A Highland Christmas
M.C. Beaton
Tales from Moominvalley
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
Moominland Midwinter
Tove Jansson, Thomas Warburton
On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
Nevil Shute Norway
The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett
Obscure Destinies
Willa Cather
A Start in Life (The Michael Cullen Novels)
Alan Sillitoe
Mobilizing Web Sites: Strategies for Mobile Web Implementation
Kristofer Layon

The Bottle Factory Outing: A Novel

The Bottle Factory Outing: A Novel - Beryl Bainbridge Two young women somehow get together and get themselves a job in a factory that bottles wine. The factory is run by Italians and all the other workers are Italian.

Freda is 26 and is tall and "plump"—something like 5'10" and 225 lbs. She thinks of herself as an aspiring actress and carries herself as such. She never succeeds in any auditions, so needs some kind of other work to make ends meet. She's brash and bossy.

Brenda is about 35 and was once married to a brute who took her off to the country where they lived with his nasty mother. He spent his time out drinking with his buds. Eventually Brenda couldn't take it and ran away. She's very shy and will do almost anything to avoid open conflict.

Freda and Brenda join forces and take a bed-sit together. They need money, so they get a job working at a wine bottling factory run my an Italian, Mr. Paganotti. Virtually everyone else working at the factory is Italian, with the exception of Patrick, who is the van driver. Mr. Rossi, who is the factory manager, takes a shine to Brenda and keeps trying to get her into spaces where he can seduce her. Freda, on the other hand has decided she's in love with Vittorio, Mr. Paganotti's nephew (or cousin?), and who is nominally engaged to another cousin still living in Italy.

So, Freda conceives the idea that the workers in the factory should have an outing, where they visit a grand house and also a safari park. Her prime purpose is to give her a chance to seduce Vittorio. Things, naturally, do not go as planned.

On one level, this book is rather absurd, dark humor. But the ending is enigmatic and really makes little sense to me. It would seem that there are no attachments beyond lust or thralldom. I dunno, the first 70% of the book was mildly amusing, but the conclusion left me cold. Beryl Bainbridge was a well celebrated British author in her time, but based on this example, I'm not sure if I'll attempt another of her offerings or not.