Friday, August 27, 2010
Time and Tide
One of the things I love most about Frank Conroy's Time and Tide, aside from the companionable voice, the rich description, the invitation into private jokes, is its willingness to admit to the frustrations of loving a place, in this case, Nantucket. What beautiful place was not better once?--think about it. Quieter beaches, humbler houses, kinder, gentler people, and whether those things are objectively true or not, long term attachment often insists that the perfected is not in front of us, but behind us. I know I think that about New York, I know I think that about Provincetown. I know my brother thinks that about South Beach, a place he'd lived for twenty years before he couldn't take the tourists and the tidiness anymore, and bought a house just last week across the bay in Belle Meade. Frank, of course, stayed with Nantucket for the rest of his life, at least in the summer months, and it's a relief to read and finish a book that still believes in the crucial wonder of a place in spite of all the ways it might have gone wrong. But of course it is never wrong to those who first come upon it. Someone is falling under the spell of South Beach right at this minute, as he strolls down Lincoln Road, past the shops and the glittering restaurants, while across the bay, my brother holds a paint brush in his hand, spreading a coat of light gray over his living room wall.