Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Queen's Gambit

We watched and enjoyed The Queen's Gambit, a limited series on Netflix, and when I saw it was based on a book, I knew I'd have to read it. What a delight! The Queen's Gambit, by Walter Tevis, is as sharp and stylish, and relentless in pursuit of the game, as the series. And both have the perfect ending! In the novel, privy to the inner life of the main character, I had an even better sense of the fear, anger, and vulnerability of the orphaned girl who becomes a great chess player. 

The Queen's Gambit was the last book I read in 2020, finished on New Year's Eve, for a total of 162 books in 2020.

By chance, I was seeking out--and found, through interlibrary loan--The Post Office Girl, by Stefan Zweig, which I read next, another great story with a young woman as the central character, a vulnerable person tossed by circumstances who develops an anger about her life that helps her rise above despair. Maybe. Also by chance, I found Chess Story,* also by Zweig, also translated by Joel Rotenberg, which I am reading now. *Sometimes translated as The Royal Game.

And completely by chance, I found myself resting my chin on my hands, and my elbows on the windowsill, just like Anya Taylor-Joy in her thinking pose, regarding the chessboard or her opponent, while looking out the window at great fallen chunks of ice, all looking like the white pieces in chess. This was during the first power outage, followed, alas, by the second power outage, an interesting but chilly way to start the year 2021! I am grateful to have the heat back on, the tree lights back on, and not to be cooking by candlelight...although it was romantic and sort of fun.

So it was two days of reading by milky (foggy, overcast) sunlight, wrapped in the silky blue blankie, layered in jammies, sweater, soft blue robe, wearing scarves around my neck and fingerless gloves. Talk about the "wasted day"! And now I am catching up, with email, blog, various bits of online business, and warmth, in general. We rang in the new year literally with a glass bell in our back yard, at midnight, with friends who came bundled and masked, standing around a wood fire laid in a barbecue grill, with champagne, while other backyard neighbors 1) also rang a bell 2) set off fireworks. The ice storm came the next day, with many branches down, followed by inches of snow. 

Followed by tree-cutters and power company guys. We finally realized, when four trucks pulled up in front of our house, and workers in bright vests carried a ladder into our back yard, that a subcontractor was perhaps carrying out a six-year-old work order, dating from a past ice storm with a four-day power outage at Christmastime, back when we could gather with family, when the workers climbed up, rigged a pulley to the electric lines that come from the pole to the house, and fixed slack lines into taut lines. Shortly thereafter, we had power! Power! Which might comfort Stefan Zweig's and Walter Tevis's characters!! And that makes it a Random Coinciday in the blog!

1 comment:

Ponyboy Garfunkel said...

I am a bit of a Walter Tevis fan. "The Man Who Fell to Earth," "The Hustler," and "The Color of Money" are all worth while, as is "The Queen's Gambit." I am particularly fond of "The Man Who Fell to Earth," about an advanced alien who struggles to adapt to our world.