Archive for May, 2016

Book 2 / Chapter 15 / “A Familiar Woman”

May 31, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: Nothing in the events of this chapter hints as to when they might have occurred, though the dentistry mentioned sounds contemporary. If the Claire of this story is in her forties, and she is of Sorrentino’s generation, that would put this “adventure” in the seventies. On the other hand, this chapter strongly evokes the first Brothers (Strawberry Blond, dentistry, Oldsmar, Florida) which argues for an earlier date. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 9 / “On the Roof”

May 31, 2016

Era: 1930’s/ 40’s. Basis: The homburg and oxford grey suit, like first Pearl Gray Homburg, and the wingtips, like first Rain, suggest an earlier dating. Can’t find anything definite on Textile Banking (except that it was indeed a concern in NYC at one time). (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 26 / “A Wake”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1980’s/ 90’s. Basis: Burger King, though a concern since the fifties, suggests gentrification. The gabardine dress suggests 2.10 and 1.10, while the young boyfriend suggests 2.22. (What, if anything, does Whitehall Station suggest?) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2/ Chapter 26 / “A Wake”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1980’s/ 90’s. Basis: “Like The President!” suggests to me a nod to the Monica Lewinski scandal and President Clinton, but if the mention of gabardine is meant to evoke 1.10 and 2.10, the President in question might more likely be Nixon. Moon Mullins, begun in 1923, continued till ’91; Dagwood from 1935 to the present. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 8 / “Success”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1980’s/ 90’s. Basis: Meryl Streep. That this man and woman seem to be colleagues at the office, rather than in a boss-secretary relationship, as we often see elsewhere in Strange Commonplace, also suggests more recent times. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 4 / “Lovers”

May 30, 2016

Era: 19780’s/ 90’s. Basis: Tony Zale against Rocky Graziano (mid-forties), “almost 35 years ago”, “5 years”… The timing here is fairly complicated but Advil dates from 1984. (Nytol from 50’s). (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 16 / “A Small Adventure”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: Bit of a guess, but the “panties” and the grunginess suggestive of the 70’s. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 12 / “Happy Days”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1980’s/ 90’s. Basis: John Cusack: late 80’s/ 90’s. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 11 / “In the Diner”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1980’s/ 90’s. Basis: Grunge/ hiphop suggest early or mid 90’s (making the 53 year old woman born in the 40s-50s). (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 23 / “In the Diner”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: Adult remembering/ imagining the events of 1.23. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 22 / “The Alpine”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: This chapter probably predates the first “Movies” where we’re told that the bar by The Alpine has been replaced by a mosque. On the other hand, that it’s a revival of Tarzan indicates this is not the 30’s, and the organic grocery suggests it is at least the 70’s. (Wikipedia: Organic Movement.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 21 / “Saturday Afternoon”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: A member of the “Charlie Parker generation” as a grand parent. Singing in the Rain is 1952; renting a video, as a normal event, probably indicates the eighties at the earliest. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 11 / “In Dreams”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: The television set seems to be color indicating at least 60’s/70’s. The three “dead beats” appearing in chapter (1.11) are associated with hiphop and grunge, implying a later date — it seems that 2.11 is a dream inspired by the events of 1.11 just as 2.2 is a dream inspired by 1.2. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 2 / “Success”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: Williamsburg (gentrication dates from 90’s); Entertainment consultant card, suggests 80’s / 90’s; “bro” in “the cant of the day” suggests 70’s / 80’s. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 2 / “Claire”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: Chapter 2.2 seems like it could well be a dream inspired by the events of 1.2 and, for similar reasons, to occur in more recent times. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 25 / “Rain”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: More a sort of meditation than a story, this chapter does not properly speaking occur in time. But the past that it dwells on and reminisces about is consistent with a man living in the present or near to it, a parent whose children have grown up, or grew up some while ago. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 22/ “The Jungle”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s / 90’s. Basis: OK Soda –without punctuation– is from 1993. If the character is a Sorrentino stand-in; and if he is fifty six years old in this chapter; if he is recalling having seen (or not seen) Tarzan with his father (on a saturday afternoon); then the events of this chapter occurred in the mid eighties. Hard to imagine an ad campaign of this type occurring before the eighties. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 21 / “Saturday Afternoon”

May 30, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: A guess — the era is assumed to be more recent because of the unnamed character’s old age. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 19 / “Pearl Grey Homburg”

May 29, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: Again, no direct evidence given here. But if the old man’s niece would have been sixty five at the time of this chapter, the old man himself is probably in his seventies or eighties. (Note that in other chapters it’s said of the “niece-like” character Claire that she was sexually abused at the age of twelve and died at the age of 23.) And if the homburg indicates that the old man came into his prime in the thirties, that would place this chapter well into the second half of the 20th century. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 17/ “Another Small Adventure”

May 29, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s/ 90’s. Basis: A guess. I associate the writer theme (“that writer bastard”) with more recent times, a la 1.2. See also 2.17. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 15 / “Brothers”

May 29, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: The Strawberry Blonde, 1941. This story is being told in the present by a narrator who knew some brothers whose formative years were probably in the forties, maybe born in the twenties, died in the eighties. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 13/ “Claire”

May 29, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s/ 90’s. Basis: This could occur anytime from the fifties to the nineties, but it’s similarity to 1.22 suggests the later date. Irene Dunne movie (probably from thirties), the television set (wikipedia: “While only 0.5% of U.S. households had a television in 1946, 55.7% had one in 1954, and 90% by 1962”), the world telegram, 1867 to 1966. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 8 / “In Dreams”

May 28, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s/ 90’s. Basis: Assuming this is the dream of a character (which I think is an assumption, if a safe one, since the borders between characters and authors, and reality and memory and dream, are somewhat questioned in A Strange Commonplace) the mention of Meryl Streep means they’re probably dreaming in the eighties or beyond, while the mention of the Philco radio suggests they were alive during the thirties, or before. According to the internet, the last time subway fare in NYC was below 99 cents was pre-1986. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 7/ “Pair of Deuces”

May 28, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s/ 90’s. Basis: Like the preceding chapter, this has a character remembering the events of the thirties, or thereabouts, from sometime much later (“three life times ago.”) Unlike the preceding chapter, the character is described as much older, a senior remembering his young adulthood, rather than an adult remembering his childhood. (He could even, one could say, be the father of the character of the preceding story.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 6/ “Movies”

May 28, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s/ 90’s. Basis: Same reasoning as 1.4, 1.5 —“a subway stop he hadn’t seen for more than forty years.” The named movies here, Red Dust, Beau Geste, are from the thirties, and the stars mentioned are of that period. “Pete Smith Specialties” date from the 1930’s to 1955. [Who is the actor that looks like a “crazed frog”?] (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / chapter 5 / “Another Story”

May 27, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: Same basis as 1.4“a friend of his youth, but to whom he had not spoken for forty-one years.” (Nothing in Strange Commonplace evokes the new millenium: no terrorism or email or cell phones; otherwise this and the preceding chapter could as easily have occurred in the 2000s.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 4 / “Lovers”

May 27, 2016

Era: 1970’s/ 80’s. Basis: “For almost forty years now I’ve known a woman…” On the suppuposition that the narrator is Sorrentino’s age — or let’s say, of the Charlie Parker generation– and that he met the woman when they were of marrying age, that would put this chapter in the 80’s/90’s. On the supposition that the narrator is of Sorrentino’s parents’ age — the Ross Columbo generation– the 70’s/80’s would be more likely. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 3 / “Born Again”

May 27, 2016

Era: 1960’s/ 70’s. Basis: Chenille apparently popular in 70’s. Bomba: books are from twenties and thirties, movies from ’49. (I’m guessing the last time “Claudia” read the Bomba book was in the late 1940’s to her daughter, –whom her husband Warren abused?). (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 24 / “Brothers”

May 27, 2016

Era: 1970’s. Basis: Tommy Potter played with Charlie Parker from 1947-1950. If this chapter occurs twenty-five years later, it is 1975 at the latest. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 20 / “Another Small Adventure”

May 27, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: I associate Jenny and Warren with 50’s/ 60’s, but — if the radio here is playing Prisoner of Love, — if we are intended to see a connection between this chapter and 1.20 (although the “apartment” in that case seems very different), this chapter might be better placed in the 30’s/40’s column. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 19 / “Rockefeller Center”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: Though the careers of Gregory Peck and Clark Gable overlap, they represent different eras of Hollywood and their mention somewhat confuses the timing on this one, especially if the character (assuming of course that in every instance it is the same character or same set of characters: the same one that is speaking and the same one that is being spoken of) started wearing a homburg “one or two years ago” –and as an affectation– rather than as a true reflection of the era in which he acquired his tastes. (Clark Gable wearing hat) (Gregory Peck wearing hat). I’d be surprised if Sorrentino didn’t have a specific movie in mind — yet it would also not be that surprising if he had misidentified the actor wearing the hat. (Could it be Al Pacino in the Godfather?) If we are to assume the male character is Sorrentino’s age, then what? If we are to assume the latest event in this book occurs in the early 1990’s, then what? (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 18 / “In the Bedroom”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: Thermofax (wikipedia/images) dates from the 50’s. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 17/ “The Jungle”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: No strong clues as to the time of this chapter. Though (1.17) and (2.17) clearly resemble each other, in portraying the disorientation of a drugged woman, the writer/ memoirist theme (which appears in the former) I associate with more recent times, while the Pierre, Warren, Ray group of characters (which appears in the latter) I associate with the fifties and sixties. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 16/ “On the Roof”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: Assuming this is the Ray Charles performance, Just For A Thrill is from 1959. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 14/ “Snow”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: The mention of Jeri Southern seems to locate this chapter squarely in the fifties, but this line, speaking of a song from 1959, somewhat disturbs that simple account: “a small and absolute perfection, long lost and almost forgotten.” (In another place also it’s hinted that this chapter may be occurring in more than one time.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 13 / “Born Again”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: No clues. The Chronicle from the 19th century, can’t find the specific Groucho Marx quote. California setting, and “Bill” somewhat suggest 50/60’s. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 10 / “Pearl Grey Homburg”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1960’s. Basis: Our man in Paris from 1963. Pottery Barn suggests more recent times, but has been around since the forties. Can’t be earlier than 1963, the question is, is it much later? — I think: this chapter is pretty clearly meant to evoke Greenwich Village life in the sixties. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 9 / “A Small Adventure”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: No clues here. Con Ed and linoleum have been around a long time. Dottie does listen to a radio, however, not the T.V., maybe suggestive of an earlier era. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 7 / “An Apartment”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: 3 years, Percodan from 1950 “the number of prescriptions has fallen precipitously since the 1960s” –“some twenty years earlier”–.Cellophane has been around forever. Not sure about the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey. (Does this chapter point to one of the “California chapters” and if so, what does that tell us about the proper dating of the events it describes? If, for example, the old man of this story is the Bill or Ralph from the second “Pair of Deuces” that would make a date in the seventies more likely for this chapter.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 5/ “Pair of Deuces”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: Black and white TV. (St. Francis from forever.) (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 3 / “Another Story”

May 26, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: another guess. Boilermakers and Lutheran Hospital have been around forever. Rego park since the twenties. Ray and Clara “11 years together” like Janet and Pierre in 2.1. It would be interesting to know something about Sorrentino’s personal history — did his parents split up? did his parents split up when he was eleven? Sorrentino would have been eleven in 1940. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 2 / Chapter 1 / “Happy Days”

May 25, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: I tend to associate these “sketchier” characters with a later time period, but the events this chapter describes could as easily have occurred in the forties. B Altman’s closed down in the late eighties. Union City. Janet and Pierre together for “11 years” like Ray and Clara in 2.3. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 18 / “Cold Supper”

May 25, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: “Poor Butterfly” original from 1917, a revival in 1954. “Silvercup” could indicate anything from the twenties to seventies. The Joy of Cooking “…in print continuously since 1936.” [Age of the woman in the story: 32].(Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 14 / Rockefeller Center

May 25, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: This chapter’s interesting because it provides the only hard calendar date in the entire book: Dec. 31, 1949, the story proceeding into the first moments of 1950, and then to a point “five years later.” Maybe also an autobiographical suggestion is present here, as, like the young man of this chapter, Sorrentino would have been 19 on Dec. 31, 1949. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 10 / “A Familiar Woman”

May 25, 2016

Era: 1950’s/ 60’s. Basis: This chapter is closely associated with chapter 2.10 (flower skirts, gabardine suits, The Sacred Fount, the theme of women mistaken for each other…) which latter almost certainly describes events in the sixties. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 25 / “The Alpine”

May 25, 2016

Era: 1930’s/ 40’s. Basis: the movies mentioned here are from the thirties –Daredevils of the Red Circle, Tarzan, Dick Tracy. (Citation for this chapter in concordance.)

Book 1/ chapter 24/ “Rain”

May 24, 2016

Era: 1930’s/ 40’s. Basis: This includes images from the thirties, fourties, fifties, but is apparently the dream of an older person. (Charlie Parker died in ’55 and, incidentally, was born about ten years before Sorrentino.) It somewhat resembles 2.12 in referring to a specific era while leaving opaque the era of the referrer –who is remembering, dreaming, writing this? ( Citation for this chapter.)

Book 1 / Chapter 23 / “Snow”

May 24, 2016

Era: 1930’s/ 40’s. Basis: Packard, Homburg, Bohack’s. There’s a question in many of the chapters –see especially the first Rockefeller Center– of how closely some characters’ ages track with Sorrentino’s own. In line with this, if the presumably pre-adolescent child of chapter 23 is Sorrentino or Sorrentino-like, that would argue this chapter occurs in the 30’s, or early 40’s. (Citation for this chapter.)

Book 1/ Chapter 20 / “An Apartment”

May 23, 2016

Era: 1930’s / 40’s. Basis: Philco radio, Prisoner of Love. This chapter is notable for mentioning specific years: 1935 for the radio, 1931 for Columbo’s “Prisoner of Love”, which is strongly suggestive about when this chapter occurs… Not sure what the pink two-way stretch girdle or cardboard box of beer tells us about time it occurs. (This site says carrying beer in cardboard was a phenomenon of the 50s / 60s, this site gives an earlier origin. Maybe the point of the cardboard box is to indicate it was ordered ‘to go.’) (Citation for this chapter in Concordance.)

Book 1 / Chapter 1 / “In the Bedroom”

May 23, 2016

Era: 1930’s / 40’s. Basis: The only indicators of time in this chapter are the fedora and homburg hats, which, both original to the nineteenth century, are most likely intended to suggest here anything from the thirties to the fifties. (Can’t find anything on the Owl Men’s Shop. Gerritsen Avenue — map. Worcestershire sauce has been around forever.) (Citation for this chapter in Concordance.)