The Ex-Debutante by Linda Frances Lee read by Susan Bennett

The smart daughter of a beautiful mother comes back to her “godforsaken sheep-happy hillbilly town” to handle her mother’s fourth or fifth divorce, and finds herself staging the annual Debutante Ball. “Don’t the pilgrims make skin cream?,” her mother asks her before mentioning how hard she has worked on maintaining her own natural beauty.
Miss Carlyle Ridgely, daughter of the Daughters of Texas, assembles 7 indelicate but moneyed 17 year olds, definitely not Ridgely Wainwright Cushing Jamison Ladley Ogden Harper-approved material.

Mary Higgins Clark…

Here’s the recipe: a youngish, pretty-ish, orphaned wife in or near Manhattan; a deceptive, felonious, or sleepwalking husband; a repressed or forgotten family scene, and wealth. Large, plush estates in tony suburbs, classic co-ops on exclusive avenues, perfectly cut clothes and lawns, professionally designed apartments, luxurious offices, always seen as if by a dazzled outsider, a maid, a secretary, a clerk, a tradesman to a privileged class.

Somewhere, somehow, somebody is murdered, kidnapped, arrested, accused.

A crime develops by pulling at and pulling out the pins of identity: what happens if a person forgets what she has done? What happens when a person has no memories of a mother, a father? What happens when a person believes that she is married to a man who is not who he pretends to be? What happens when a person does not tell her husband about her past? What happens when a friend, a neighbor, a son, a sister, a priest, a doctor, a lawyer is untrustworthy? What happens when a child is removed from a mother, and a mother is removed from her child? What happens to a classy woman when she is removed from her class?

Neighborhood Watch by Cammie McGovern read by Coleen Marlo

It could be any neighborhood in the 1970s or 1980s or any conventional middle class development with young childless couples on the verge of divorce or adultery. The neighborhood librarian becomes a felonious sleepwalker before becoming the librarian at a Women’s Correctional Institute, teaching other felons to read, doing sit ups in her cell, falling in love with a white collar criminal in the medium security men’s prison across the way.

After 12 years she is reprieved by DNA evidence and returns to the neighborhood to re-examine a life she inhabited uncomfortably. Once she was a woman in between miscarriages, who locked her doors at night so that no one would steal the mattress stained by her third dead fetus. Now she is a woman in between innocence and  guilt, trying to remember the truth.

Agatha Christie The Hollow read by Hugh Fraser

Have a bit of Christie as social chronicler, as drawing room critic of a leisure class which presents itself as a platform of unemployment. It is 1946 and the Angkatells are gathered togethered, after the murder. Lucy, the mistress of cognitive deviations, Henrietta, clever, independent and detached, Midge, dark, square shaped, and poor, David, a spoiled, sour intellectual, and Edward, the reluctant, bony, undeserving heir.

It is quite obvious that the notion of work is odd, uncertain, and turning: the way milk turns. “Is the woman sympathetic and pleasant to work for?,” Edward asks Midge. “If you must have a job you must take one where the surroundings are harmonious and where you like the people you are working with.”

But how does one explain the notion of work to an heir?

How to explain to a person like Edward… What did Edward know of the labour market, of jobs, They were all divided from her by an impassible gulf: the gulf that separates the leisured from the working. They had no conception of the difficulties of getting a job. And once you had got it, of keeping it… She had found a job for herself at 4 pounds a week… Midge had no particular illusions about working. She disliked the shop. She disliked Madame Alfredge. She disliked the eternal subservience to ill tempered and impolite customers. She doubted very much whether she could obtain any other job….

A 17 year old shop girl, circa 1946 or 2010?

Discontent does not stop at the door of the dress shop. Oxford is overgrown with it; circulates it, exports it.

“I must have a talk with you David and learn all about the new ideas. As far as I can see one must hate everybody but at the same time give free medical attention and a lot of extra education… Poor things all those helpless little children herded into schoolhouses everyday….

After The Funeral by Agatha Christie read by Hugh Fraser

After the funeral, there is the family and the village. There is a batty aunt, a hysterical and heirless English lord, his ancient butler, and a smattering of inadequate and weak-willed in-laws, waiting for their share. These are the leftovers of the comfortable class, who married badly and relied on unreliable servants. Unlike Miss Gilchrist, who knew how to cook, and ran a pretty little teashop before the war.

Elizabeth Moon The Speed of Dark read by Grover Gardner

Elizabeth Moon The Speed of Dark read by Grover Gardner

Pattern recognition is the theme of this second millenium. Knowledge is pattern recognition. Love is pattern recognition. Beauty is pattern recognition. Those who can recognize patterns get to recognize more patterns. Hi, ho. Class struggle.

Now, lets get flush. A few small and weary ancestors hammered away at a short list of ideas. They are museum quality, priceless, with some entertainment value.

But you don’t want to get behind an idea. Not in heavy traffic. It is all over the road. It is in your face. In the right lane. In the left lane. In the right lane. Then, suddenly, without warning, it stops. In the middle of the road. Miles in front of the light. Sitting pretty on some double line, any double line.

For ideas, substitute patterns. Pro cogito ordo est.

Lou the autistic works for a company that makes weapons systems and other good stuff. He spends thousands of hours in front of a computer screen recognizing mathematically gross patterns within data fields. Patterns take the place of knowing how to think.

Lou sees patterns, Lou makes patterns, Lou is patterns.

28% of Lou’s patterns span Margot: a very pretty normal he talks to when he goes fencing at Tom’s house every Wednesday. 5% span shopping for groceries (Tuesday), 5% span driving to work (8:02 -8:25), 1% span cleaning his car (Saturday), 7% span going to Church (Sunday morning).

This is a monstrous book. A brilliant book. A good book.

It shows us inter alia that normality depends on the undaunted recognition of patterns: social signals, facial expressions, vocal tones, and on the order and organization of appropriate reactions to such patterns….

Maybe.

I just looked up “undaunted” to see whether it means the same as dauntless. The OED reads: undaunted: not daunted. No! You think? We autistics protest. Why don’t normals say what they mean? Why don’t words mean exactly? Why should mathematically coherent, numerically aligned, literal, pattern-recognizing beings kowtow to semantic ninniness. Aarrrrgh.

But we do.

Mourning Glory by Warren Adler::

A distressing picture of the unhappy situation of the losing class within a classless society. Grace is a 37 year old female loser within this losing class. She lives at the edge of a self-consciously wealthy Palm Beach ghetto of sectional wealth. She has a teenage bitch-daughter with a whine. She has an old dildo.

We meet her behind the cosmetics counter telling a very important hag that no product on earth will fix her face. She is summarily fired from this last of a series of pink collar jobs, after an earful of wise advice. Go to funerals. Find a very rich very lonely very old man. She does.

There are women who stalk Jewish funerals, offering to dispose of the dead wife’s clothes. Grace imitates them. She is good at it.

She finds a vital, vulnerable, well groomed well off Jew. She models the old clothes on her young shikse body. The rest is elementary.