May 22, 2004

Seventeen Ways to Eat a Mango

It's 1962. "J" is sent by his employer, a food-packing corporation, to investigate the mangoes on a remote island. His employer's interests are mercenary; J is a recent college grad, new to commercialism. So -- you've already guessed? -- this is a book about what's REALLY important, living in the present moment, enjoying daily pleasures....

I like treatments of this theme, which is why I couldn't resist pulling this little volume from my local library's shelf. It's roughly the size of a child's picture book, a little thicker, a little less tall, and very out of place in the adult fiction stacks.

But my favorite part of the book was J's frustration with losing track of the time and date as he attempts to journal his experiences.
Tuesday 11:43
I had to reread yesterday's entry just to make sure I didn't dream it last night. Last night? Has it only been two nights since I arrived here? My time is all messed up. I woke up today and the sun was high. I looked to see what time it was: 11:43. It took me hours to realize my watch had stopped. I shook it. Whacked it on my knee. It will say 11:43 until the end of time or until I get it to a watchmaker. A little while ago I stopped just short of pounding in its face with a coconut.
and later:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- pick any one of the above. I give up on dating this thing.
That part just cracked me up. My husband's watch has been losing time for about a month now, and it's driving him nuts.

I went through "watch withdrawal" some years ago. I finally determined that watches kept breaking on me because we're just not compatible with each other. It's something about my skin in contact with the watch back that hoses up the innards. A cheap Timex lasts a year. A nice Seiko lasts about two years. Replacement batteries have diminishing returns with each successive round. I guess I have a magnetic personality, ha ha.

Seventeen Ways to Eat a Mango, by Joshua Kadison

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