Every December on the blog I feature Xmas scenes and books… and this will continue into January.
If you use Pinterest you can see some of the beautiful seasonal pictures on this page, and you can find (endless!) more Xmas books via the labels at the bottom of the page.
Today a rather particular and very funny NY Eve party
Brothers Keepers by Donald E Westlakepublished 1975
[The brothers of the Crispinite Order are trying to save their New York monastery: in pursuit of this, they end up at the New Year party of the landlord, an Irish businessman who lives on Long Island]
Brother Quillon was deep in conversation with a pair of beaming buxom maidens and Brother Leo was disapprovingly browsing among the sets of Dickens.
Brother Flavian [was] in haranguing dialogue with half a dozen college age youths. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Beyond them, Brothers Clarence and Dexter, cocktails in hand, were in civilised discourse with several guests.
Brother Peregrine was fox-trotting to How Much is that Doggy in the window? With a suspiciously-blonde blonde, while Brother Eli was managing to do the monkey to the same music with a girl who looked like all folksingers.
It was not at all easy to turn 15 monks and Mr Schumacher from partygoers into Travelers again. They were all of them happy right where they were... the brown robes began at last to separate themselves from the party... The Brothers trailed out of the house, one at a time...
commentary: I did a post on this book in April– it was one of my joys of the year, and all credit to Tracy of Bitter Tea and Mystery who introduced me to it. It is a great book for many reasons, and one of them is that it is very very funny. The Monks at the NY party are a stroke of genius, and why on earth has no-one ever made a film or TV series just to show this scene?
Other delights include various comments on people’s names – an ‘Alfred’ must be a man of no gumption or he’d be Al or Fred. Is it Charley or Charlie? – it makes a difference. Talking of which, I was sorry that the character with the excellent name of Ada Louise Huxtable made only a glancing appearance: but she turns out to have been a real person, architecture critic of the New York Times.
And Brother Benedict, our narrator, finds himself in some exquisite dilemmas: Westlake works it out really well.
Tracy’s description of the plot is useful:
Brother Benedict is a member of the Crispinite order, numbering only 16 monks, which has occupied a building in midtown Manhattan, built by the original monks on leased land. Brother Benedict discovers in the newspaper that the building that they are housed in will be demolished along with the rest of the block they live on. This order has a prohibition against travel unless absolutely necessary; thus the brothers are disturbed that they will have to leave the home they love. They believe that they have a legal right to stay, based on their lease, but the lease is missing. This is highly suspicious. They search for ways to prevent the demolition of the block, but they are thwarted everywhere they turn.And you can read more about the book at my earlier post.
It is very hard to find any pictures of modern-day monks, let alone of brothers at a party, and I used up some good pictures on the previous entry.
The top picture above is from a venue in Norway – Utstein, a mediaeval monastery where you can hold a social event: the monks will do a barbecue for your party or wedding. Sadly it turns out it is no longer an actual monastery, but a monastery museum, and so I guess the monks are actors or students…
The other picture is ‘a sculpture of a Monk from Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, New York’, and the photo is by Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada.