Reunions in Scotland end in recovery. Adrian salutes creation and resolves to live for others.
When Lionel takes to the sky as the swiftest way to his ailing friend’s bedside, Mary Shelley’s late 21st-century future reveals a pleasant discovery: solo passenger air travel. Quiet, too; just the rudder’s creak, the whoosh of wings.
An essay at Romantic Circles covers the balloons in The Last Man very thoroughly. And this designer’s rich account of 18th-century balloons and ballooning offers a coincidentally Scottish detour into the visual culture from which Mary Shelley’s generation sprang.
Before her time as well was William Blake, whose image of Glad Day (he also called it Rose Albion), was probably unknown to her. Yet Adrian’s speech at the end of this chapter evokes it almost inescapably. Though the book feels very close to a life portrait of Percy Shelley here, the ecstatic over-brimming life-embracing character declaiming at a landscape view is also a hero of a particular kind—a visionary kind. Blake’s image suits her story.
But I include it especially tonight, this Pride Weekend, in memory of Glad Day Bookstore in Boston’s Back Bay where I spent so many hours in the 1980s picking through the lesbian fiction shelves. One day the man at the register told me I should try reading The Price of Salt by Claire Morgan, who was really Patricia Highsmith; it became a major book of my life, a great reading love of mine. Glad Day, I’m sad to report, the city’s first and only gay & lesbian bookstore, closed in 2000 in an overheated real estate market, after 21 years; dead young.