Though This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets has a summery cover and a summery length, it would be a depressing summer read for most of us. We lack the leisure time and the leisure locales of the characters. Most of us have no personal hermitage or even access to such. I don’t even have a tent! Even worse for light summer reading, Blanca spends her entire vacation mourning her mother and seeking the attention of men. That’s depressing!
Such a statement doesn’t reflect the value of this book, simply the potential misidentification of it as a light summer read. Read This Too Shall Pass if you want to wallow in a blue funk. Blanca’s constant chatter to her mother serves to remind the reader how this too shall NOT pass. Even when your parent walks down the pier, boards the boat and tells you, “this too shall pass,” there will be an epilogue. We never stop thinking about loved ones. Love never expires and neither will your sadness.
But, okay. The book is funny, too. The idea of “retractable tits”, for example, is funny because it strikes that balance of ridiculousness and truth. What woman wouldn’t want larger breasts sometimes and smaller breasts at others? The application of such would be tremendously utilitarian even for those who don’t consider themselves pragmatists. Similar suppositions occur frequently throughout the slim novel. I appreciate the quiet, clever, intimate humor.
Intentionally or not, dogs play a role as a recurring theme in This Too Shall Pass. There are actual dogs, who connect us to purpose in life and who accompany us through life. And there are figurative dogs, like the “bitch of death” who ruins all the places we used to love by reminding us of the people who used to go to those places with us. This reminds me again how depressing and ironic a book about coping with death is titled “This Too Shall Pass” when it obviously won’t. I dreamed of dogs while reading this book. Such is definitely a benefit to the reader–if you like dogs.
There seems to be a more relaxed way of life among Spaniards as compared to Americans, but in the case of Blanca it’s hard to tell what parts of her leisure are based on culture and what part is economic. Blanca and I live different lives in different parts of the world and have different thoughts on relationships, but I do recognize parts of Blanca in me. Specifically I recognize the duality of our feelings and experiences. This will pass and it will not pass. Big tits, small tits. Lovable pups and crazy bitches. Depression and celebration.
I understand how, “It’s easier to keep a distance with people who are alive.” It seems like my relationship with my father deepened after his passing. Also, like Blanca, I wondered how much time it would take before my other relationships would return to “normal” after his illness and subsequent death. The answer to that may also be, “this too shall not pass.” Those relationships are altered, mostly for the better. There is a depth to relationships that carry through, a depth that persists not passes.