Duncan Hines, traveling salesman and future purveyor of boxed cake mix, considered himself an authority on a great many things: hot coffee, Kentucky country-cured ham and how to locate a tasty restaurant meal, in 1935, for under a dollar and a quarter.
By the 1950s, Hines' name would be plastered on boxes of cake mix; housewives would turn to his products for consistent quality and superior taste. Newspaper photographs featured Hines clad in a white chef's apron, hoisting a neatly frosted cake or thoughtfully dipping a spoon into a mixing bowl.
But Duncan Hines wasn't a chef — in truth, he could barely cook. For most of his career, he had just been a businessman, desperate for a decent meal on the road. Through his search for the best restaurants across America, he became an accidental gourmand, an unlikely author and homegrown connoisseur.
As it happens, Ms. Levy’s adventures fit into an older tradition than the memoir/exposes, “the autopathographies,” as James Atlas wrote, introducing the wave of literary memoirs from the early 1990s — Mary Karr, Susanna Kaysen, et al — that have dominated the form for decades. When her marriage finally ends, Ms. Levy strikes up a correspondence with the handsome South African doctor John Gasson, who had treated her in Mongolia.
The memoir ends ambiguously, with Ms. Levy pondering a flight to South Africa. But in real life, she and Dr. J., as she calls him, conducted an epistolary romance through email that continued to blossom. There would be setbacks, as Ms. Levy tried — “400,000 times,” she said — to get pregnant through IVF treatments, until “my heart was broken and I had no money and I was like: ‘Girl, it’s done. Let it go.’”
“Not everybody gets everything, but you get some stuff,” she continued. “You get other stuff.”
I’m no theologian. My professional life has been focused on politics and the ideas that inform politics. Yet I’m also a Christian trying to wrestle honestly with the complexities and losses in life, within the context of my faith. And while it’s fine for Christians to say God will comfort people in their pain, if a child dies, if the cancer doesn’t go into remission, if the marriage breaks apart, how much good is that exactly?
In the introduction of Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms, Maria Tatar talks about how to classify a fairy tale using the Aarne-Thompson system. Developed and refined since the early 20th century, it's a massive taxonomy that cross-references our fundamental stories by subplots and themes. (The sheer volume of folklore would be overwhelming otherwise; Tatar's book alone contains stories from almost two dozen countries.) And stories of loathly brides and grooms generally fall under two types: The Man on a Quest for His Lost Wife, or The Search for the Lost Husband.
Looking at these categories, however, doesn't offer an easy place for Beauty and the Beast. The familiar 18th-century French version (which Disney borrowed for its tale as old as time) fits the letter of the Aarne-Thompson law: The lost husband is the beastly suitor, whom Beauty must return to and rescue at last. But other stories confound the classic about the girl who agrees to live with a gentle Beast until love softens her heart.
i awoke drugged
i remember her
and wanting life to be
as simple as that thought