June 2nd, 2004

Crosspoints, a novel by Alexandra York

I've just started reading it, really, but it is holding my interest. It's not super-fast-paced, but the story is moving along, the stakes are building, and the characters are well drawn. At the center of the story, it appears, are questions about cynical decadence in the contemporary art world, as opposed to vibrant idealism in the classical art world. I suppose Alexandra York is in a position to know some of this first hand, since she is an active participant in the culture war in the art world.

These abstract themes are embodied in a Romantic triangle that promises to grow more explosive. I'm only 60 pages into a 446 page book, but that's how I'm projecting it at the moment.

York (not sure if it's Mrs, Miss, or Ms) has a charming writing style. It's kind of flowery and feminine at times, but not in a bad way. I like the way she handles the nuances of feminine sensuality:

"Tara resisted the urge to close her blouse and then to open it further; she didn't know which she wanted to do. She felt a drop of perspiration travel between her breasts. And another slip down the small of her back."

Good stuff. Those 2 drops of sweat (oops... perspiration!) are a great way to suggest the increased bodily awareness that the heroine is feeling as the situation she is in becomes erotically charged.

Amazon has it. Laissez Faire Books has it. And you can also get it straight from AlexandraYork.com

Change of topic to sweat vs. perspiration:

There was an old saying: "Animals sweat, men perspire, women gently glow."

I'm not sure if this is just an issue of word choice, or if it was supposed to indicate varying levels of volume of the fluid exuded.

Anyway, there is an old joke that goes with the old saying:

A girl has been walking outside in the summer heat. She comes inside and tells her mother, "I'm sweating like crazy."

The mother looks at her reproachfully, and tells her, "Animals sweat, men perspire, women gently glow."

The daughter thinks this over, then announces: "Okay. Let me put it like this. I'm glowing like a goddamned horse."

Rhyme of the day:

It pours out of the same pores, you know,
Whether you sweat or perspire or glow.

2nd change of topic: Mrs, Miss or Ms.

Mrs and Miss, oddly enough, derive from the exact same word. Ms, in turn, derives from Mrs. and Miss, so indirectly it too derives the same word. What word? Mistress, or course! In old books you will hear respectable women addressed as Mistress Higginbotham, or whatever. Nowadays if you call a woman Mistress Higginbotham, people will wonder if she is a dominatrix.

And if you just call a woman a mistress, it is rather different than being a Mrs.

Is there a point? No. Well, yes. The point is that etymology, the study of word history, leads to madness. No, that's not the point. The point is that etymology is not a reliable guide to a word's contemporary meanings, because language, while not quite fluid, is certainly not solid as a rock.