Dorothy Baker left the ache that pumps the heart less in the eye socket sucker look that passes when you catch your own expression in the mirror and in the beat before you can't recognize your own face that's gonna be the face you gotta get used to seeing all by its lonesome for the rest of your life. I got a lot out of Cassandra at the Wedding and still I cannot truthfully say that it is a good book. Cassandra at the Wedding is that type of book. Judith's maternal look before identical twin Cassandra's settled in the boozy late as in late day vanity mirror. Let's get together/ yeah yeah yeah like that song from The Parent Trap (I don't know about you but my identical twin self was mortified by that song and cute act for the adults). Deceased mama was one of those glamour pusses that memoirists excuse how little care they took with their children because they just looked so darn good in a pair of boots and a nice purse. Cassandra at the Wedding pretty much bored me a lot of the time. Blah blah Cassandra can talk anyone into doing anything she wants because she has a WAY about her. I didn't see it when Cassandra is talking and I didn't see it when it was Judith's turn. It was important that Cassandra measured herself by Judith. Judith hides behind how Cassandra is seen, like a kid on the first day of kindergarten and mommy hasn't worked up the necessary nerve to leave baby to sink or swim. Cassandra at the Wedding bugged the fuck out of me with that shit. I liked Cassandra's inner feather ruffling over how Judith will stroke her with those maternal looks. Cassandra hides behind these couch observations. I liked the way that Baker didn't make a deal about Cassandra's lesbianism. I get it, Cassandra has the WAY and everyone likes her, even after she pulls the if you get married I'll kill myself routine? I actually liked Cassandra sometimes. Judith didn't know why Cassandra always thought the two of them together was something so special. Judith waited for Cassandra to come home to their apartment. Judith abandons the ship mama didn't let sink or swim and the bosendorfer and Cassandra's belly are willfully anorexic to all strokes and fur rubbing, wrong way or no. I knew that when reading it and couldn't help but think about her two novels (that have meant the world to me throughout my life so far) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding. I believe she got something out of 'Cassandra' because I did too, despite it being no where near as good as her novels. Too much breath wasted on the mechanizations of the self destruction and not enough for what the pull to join it looked like. Cassandra at the Wedding missed it when it didn't talk about that. I didn't need to be told that it is no good to count on anyone else to love you because I knew that before I could stand on my own two feet! Okay, I hated this book somewhat because I felt like it was telling me (Cassandra) that I'm too attached to people I like and they all have their own lives and have no use for me.
They were like this: "Do you remember, Papa?" I said, "when you read to us out of The Anatomy of Melancholy --'Be not idle, be not solitary'?" "It's the other way around, I believe," papa said. I was stuck." "I don't know why I should have chosen to read that to you," papa said, "I've always believed in solitude." He looked down, saw his glass, recognized it, and took a drink. "And in idleness too," he said. It's more for people like me." "What's it mean?" "You should know," he said, "it couldn't be simpler, it means: Hope, ye unhappy ones, Ye happy ones, fear." My family does not talk like that.
But I will release Cassandra's self pity that I have come to imagine as my own. Cassandra's vision is of a life with her identical, yet very different, twin, Judith. This vision is rooted in a perfect night, a moment of recognition of a way to live in consonance with ones ideals. But I always hoped I could bring you to understand that there is such a thing as a whole life - a way of life - and a reason of that is strong enough to protect you from every little whistling call of the wild. The difference that I see between the two ways of living is what you respect most, an ideal higher truth or imperfect human beings with a right to pursue a better life. Cassandra is that person of staunch ideals but she loves Jude enough to listen to her arguments, to long for a lighter life. Part of this willingness comes from Cassandra's sense of oneness with Judith. Perhaps living in the same family, on the same lopsided power equation makes siblings understand each other in a way other kinds of relationships don't.
The story revolves around Cassandra Edwards, a lesbian graduate student at Berkeley, receives the news of her sister Judith's wedding.
And I dont know that were incomplete, actually, but that each of us is infinite, depending on perception and expression. I mean: Ive had this book for years, but started it fully unintentionally the day before I boarded a plane from Whitehorse to Montreal, crossing the country away from my sisters new city. But those scenes where the twins remember sitting at the feet of their philosopher father as he pontificates, educates; where the sounds of the old family home hold too much memory, too much power; where Cassandra rails against stretching outwards for fear of losing that private beauty she cant relinquish ----- This book is a goddamn treasure, alright. Its been awhile since Ive read a book and sympathized so fiercely with such an abhorrent protagonist (Pravda and Seven Types of Ambiguity looking at you, boys). Ive been crying all day, on and off planes, as I cross the country and head home.
Dorothy Baker was apparently a straight woman who liked to write lesbian fiction. She probably just takes after her mother, who recently died of cancer and whom Judith describes as less like a mother and "more like somebody's little brother." I found this book on the library shelf while looking for Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist, which wasn't there.
This story was originally published in 1962 and I totally respect the author.
The wedding signifies the break in this aforementioned bond and she will not let Judith go without a fight; this will not happen without someone dying trying. Baker's 'Cassandra at the Wedding' shows how a family functions better when they are away from one another and the dysfunction that happens when they come together.
The song is really about anguish, I think, but she sings it in a lovely, fairly understated way that sort of lets you off the hook somehow like you have a choice between listening to it remotely and staying emotionally calm, or really focusing on it and getting kind of verklempt and suicidal. Most especially, I love the funny (and odd) little intro that goes Old Man Sunshine, listen you Never tell me dreams come true Just try it / and Ill start a riot Beatrice Fairfax, dontcha dare Ever tell me he will care Im certain / its the final curtain I never want to hear from any cheerful Polyannas Who tell you fate supplies a mate; its all bananas This book reminded me of that song, in that its about something painful, but its written with such a light touch, and so astutely, and with such snappy humor, that I just felt good and happy and warm the whole time I was reading it.
She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1942 and, the next year, published Trio, a novel whose frank portrayal of a lesbian relationship proved too scandalous for the times; Baker and her husband adapted the novel as a play in 1944, but it was quickly shut down because of protests.