I've been searching all day for the particular word to describe my feeling of general disagreeableness -- something more than mere ennui -- but less glum than weltschmerz. I'm sure it's largely my seasonal funk starting to edge its way in. There's something about the coming of winter, dark days, the negative aspects of the holidays with their crassness and fakery that bums me out every year.
In any case, I'm looking for a perfect French word for it; I know it's out there, but I can't quite put my finger on it. My husband suggests the humble "grumpy," but of course, it lacks a certain sophisticated, continental flair. The Eskimo have a hundred words for snow, but the French probably have about that many for feelings of discontent. Merde!
I just finished James Salter's novel Light Years, a beautifully written book about all sorts of discontents. It is a wonderful example of reading and life convergence. Salter is considered to be one of the last of the "Hemingway school" in his style, but I think he is a terrific improvement on Hemingway. I can see the influence in the short sentences and the precise word choice, and even in the way dialogue is delivered, but Salter's language is so much richer and more lyrical and his characters seem far more like real people. For one thing, Salter goes on my rather short list of male authors who write well about women (Flaubert, Hardy, Michael Ondaatje, Brian Hall to name the ones off the top of my head). Rather than the alien stick figures Hemingway conjures up, Salter's women are like -- gasp! -- human beings. The character Nedra's struggles with aging are uncomfortably familiar: "People only come this close..." looking at herself in the mirror, from a certain distance, in a certain light. How we deny! It is a book filled with many lovely, astute, disquieting things. (Another departure from the ersatz macho-man Ernest is that Salter was a real-life fighter-pilot in the Korean War, not some wanna-be adventurer.)
On a far different note, the Project Feeder bird counting starts this weekend. Funny, how I look forward to it. Selena vs. Squirrels, Round Two. There is no question, of course, who will emerge victorious.