“Let me tell you about the very rich,” advises the oft-quoted passage from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, “They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them…”
What it does is render them fascinating to readers from the not-mega-rich tag. Otherwise, why would we–particularly in this economy–immerse ourselves in fictional lifestyles bizarrely devoid of price tag reading?
Lately, I’ve enjoyed a literary novel (Mark Helprin’s In Sunlight and In Shadow), a new romance/time travel story that I think Diana Gabaldon fans would especially like (Beatriz Williams’ Overseas), and the film version of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The Descendants. All three feature characters possessing wealth almost beyond imagination.
We readily conjure sympathy for those who don’t appear to need it (or anything else). Is it because we’re reminded that no amount of financial security can prevent heartache?
Or is it that we can vicariously savor private jet travel, multiple home ownership, and a cadre of personal assistants, then comfortably revert to the non-fictional (and press photographer-free) joys of the perfect chili dog or a stolen hour relaxing in the back yard when we should be doing chores or answering email?
Just think– immense wealth would curtail one’s appreciation of ordinary features of life that are still so marvelous as to make us feel happier every single time we encounter them. Some of my favorite riches:
- Crape (or crepe) myrtles
- Anything Texas-shaped (if you’re a native Texan compelled to live in other places at some point, you understand)
- Enough water to keep plants alive, even in summertime
- Downtown Round Rock: the library has a great view of Main Street Plaza
- Advance reading copies (the only thing better than a wonderful read is the chance to savor and share one before it’s published)
- Underground New York Public Library blog (Thanks to colleague Kate for sharing this link. Photos of New York City subway riders photographed unawares while engrossed in their books could very well make your day.)