Citizen Vince*

I think this is an oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia); don’t miss the insect.

Vince…likes getting to work at 4:30 in the morning and finishing before lunch. He feels as if he’s gotten one over on the world, leaving his place of employment for lunch and simply not coming back. He’s realizing this is a fixed part of his personality, this desire to get one over on the world. Maybe there’s a hooky gene.

I like that idea: a hooky gene. I think I have a part-time, situational one! You?

Later Vince thinks more about time and the sensation of it passing.

When does the day turn? Clocks and calendars say midnight, but the man who lives his life by a clock is no better than a robot. Daylight? Letting the sun determine is only slightly less arbitrary. So what? Consciousness? Does the day begin when you rise out of bed into it? Is there a fixed moment when you pass from one to the other? Even awake, Vince has felt the turn from one day to the next; no rule says when it happens, you just know when it does. If he had to peg it, he’d say closing—when the bars shut down.

Okay, if “day” is arbitrary, does it have to have a start/finish? Can’t it just be that understood thing that has a sunlight part and a night part, and leave it at that? And that we understand from context what is meant?

Yeah, to some degree, that’s okay, but then some anal retentive type decides we have to distinguish noon from 1 pm in such a way that we all know what we’re talking about and, whew, then we have to consider the issue Vince raises.

Okay, one more excerpt, since it’s also musing on time:

There is a moment when all the work that can be done is done. Plays have all been made, strategies and mistakes. The various people are in position and there’s nothing more than the wait—no more running or politicking, compromising or pleading. It’s going to be what it’s going to be, and all that’s left is for the thing to play itself out. And at that moment, time is measured in sighs, regrets and ironies; these are the seconds, minutes and hours of the night before.

I haven’t finished this book yet, and I’m into the dangerous last third, and the ending seems to be heralded by the paragraph above. So far the tale’s been above average, as Garrison K would say, and the characters worth spending time on, yet I keep worrying that it’s starting to self-destruct. Vince strives against himself, like the rest of us, but the deck seems to be stacked against him (hey, I can use, broadly speaking, sports metaphors, too!).

* From Jess Walter’s Citizen Vince (2005, p. 5, 171, & 239).

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