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  • A la W. Somerset Maugham:

    I hope this will mark my return to a more consistent contribution of materials to this wonderful and charming site. The last few weeks have been demanding in many ways, and I have certainly missed the opportunity to share with you my thoughts and poetry. I thank you all for your patience in this matter and for the kind and generous comments you have made on various entries I have posted in the interim.

    There is, to my thinking, a certain familiar satisfaction in the conception, development, and completion of even the most trivial of tasks. Preparing a meal, making a bed, vacuuming a room, shopping for groceries, or even reading a completing a novel by an author of a bygone era can instill in the doer a sense of accomplishment no matter how insignificant the act might seem in the grand scheme of things.

    The Razor's Edge was my most recent “fait accompli”, a challenging and slightly intellectual tale interspersed over the last fortnight by the previously mentioned activities along with laundry, occasional visits to physical therapy, and coaching my wife through her exercise regimen to speed her recovery from knee replacement surgery. While this is the second such operation for her, the previous to her left knee two years ago, the recovery routine has not changed, although I will say her progress at this time has been at a slightly brisker pace than the last.

    While these activities left me little time to write, let alone read, I adjusted my habits to suit that schedule and was able to slowly digest this work of W. Somerset Maugham in smaller portions than I would normally have done. While some might have thought this a hindrance or even an annoyance, I found it to be eminently practical to pursue this masterpiece of literature in brief but greatly satisfying portions. I can accurately compare it to dining out at a fine restaurant, being served the most succulent, delectable steak imaginable, and taking the time to cut it into small, satisfying pieces so that every bite might be savored to the end.

    While it is not my intention to provide the reader with a book report such as might be assigned in a high school English class, or to offer a review in the manner of the Arts segment of the Sunday edition of the New York Times, I can tell you a few things which I have gleaned while reading this renown and wholly satisfying novel.

    My first impression is of the development of character. Thanks to Monsieur Maugham, I am now eminently familiar with the persons of Eliot Templeton, Isabel and Gray Mautin, Sophie MacDonald, Suzanne Rouvier, and most importantly, Mr. Laurence Darrell. I dare say I am so familiar with them that, should I ever be the host at a party where they are in attendance, they would be infinitely impressed at my knowledge of their particular predilections and preferences. While that is, of course, a very unlikely occurrence, it is none the less true. I would have the good manners to allow Monsieur Templeton to select the wines, inform us of the latest in royal gossip, and jovially guide the conversation to the appropriate places without seeming gauche or rude. Isabel and Gray would certainly be seated across from Sophie and Larry, and I dare say I would attempt to entice the fair Suzanne as my consort for the evening.

    My next impression is setting, for without a map and having never been to Europe, the single omission in my travels to other countries, I feel as familiar with the streets of Paris than I have ever been. Paris of the early 20th century must have been a place of infinite charm and stark divisions between the classes, and it would be impossible to fully describe all the knowledge imparted by Maugham in this novel, short of advising the reader to peruse the material for himself.

    And last, but not least, is the story itself, a story of persons caught up in unequal and sometimes opposing agendas that manages not to judge or evaluate the actions, but merely to report and allow the reader to decide in his own mind who might be the villains or heroes, if there are indeed any at all. I have made my own selections in this matter, and believe I will respect the wishes of the artist in allowing you to do the same. It is in this manner I recommend the book to you, without reservation.

    As to my personal state, I am in relatively good health, although the last few weeks have been physically tasking enough to have lost 15 pounds, which is a benefit in my particular situation. Due to a few revelations which have come about concerning my wife's health which were revealed in the preparatory stages of this procedure, I have had to adjust my grocery shopping and meal preparation habits accordingly, but am thankful my abilities as a cook have provided us with wholesome and satisfying meals using alternatives to less healthy foods. While we were never prone to an excess of frying or sweets, I am adjusting our diet to include more fish and to remain a bit lower on the food chain. I am pleased to say it is working out splendidly.

    Les bénédictions de Dieu soient riches d'entre vous, mes amis.

    Fred
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