Grandmother: Bessie. I’m reading the most mediocre book.
Granddaughter: Oh. That’s not good!
Grandmother: It’s Eugenides. Honestly I think it reads like absolute PULP.
Granddaughter: ”The Marriage Plot?”
Grandmother: That’s the one. And Eugenides went to Brown!
Granddaughter: You really didn’t like it?
Grandmother: I’m on page 125 and I can’t wait to be through with it. But you know me… Honestly, I had two children and two grandchildren go to Brown…it’s far fetched.
Granddaughter: But you liked “Middlesex,” I thought.
Grandmother: Of course I did. It was a wonderful book.
Granddaughter: Well, we agree!
Grandmother: I’m going to say something and I don’t want you to get angry with me: Put “Jessica Eugenides” on the cover and it wouldn’t sell 25 copies.
Grandmother: Didn’t you say you were reading it?
Granddaughter: Yeah. I was pretty close to the subject matter, so I guess - I think was enthralled in a self-referential way.
Grandmother: Well. And that “Goon Squad” book! They gave her the PULITZER can you believe it. I thought it was morose. And one big gimmick. More fun for her to write than for me to read. Who needs it!
Granddaughter: I loved that book, grandma!
Grandmother: Coming of age this, coming of age that! Talk to me when you get there.
Granddaughter: Well haven’t you read anything lately you liked?
Grandmother: I’m reading that Wallis Simpson book. And you know what, she was very pro-Nazi. And so was Edward! And they went to visit Germany before England declared war, when Lord Hallifax was starting to appease Germany - then of course Chamberlain did - and the Duke of Windsor said he thought Germany would certainly defeat France! It was really sick. And meanwhile he was so in love with her that he couldn’t see any faults. And she, of course, was truly in love with her second husband in America, but lo and behold, Edward abdicated the throne and she was trapped! This was 1936, so I was eleven years old, and I remember seeing her photograph in the papers. Anyway, it was a fast-moving book but a very interesting window into the monarchy. And how the world was.
Granddaughter: Well, I love everything about that!
Grandmother: Me, too! Oh, you know what was very good that I read the other week? “The Paris Wife.” You really must read it. That poor woman.
Granddaughter: I will. My friend’s reading it right now. Maybe she’ll lend it to me.
Grandmother: Lend it to you? I’ll BUY you a copy.
Granddaughter: No - it’s -
Grandmother: -which friend?
Grandmother: Alex from “The New Republic” or Alex from school?
Granddaughter: Alex from school.
Grandmother: Is she still dating that boy Peter. From London?
Granddaughter: Uh…Yes. How did you -
Grandmother: -does she still have that terrible job at the non-for-profit?
Granddaughter: Um. Yeah. She does.
Grandmother: Well it doesn’t sound like either of those things will be satisfying in the long term.
Granddaughter: You know what?
Granddaughter: I think you’re right.
Grandmother: Of course I am. I’m always right! Ha!