1.10 / 2.15

“A Familiar Woman”
Book 1, chapter 10; Book 2, chapter 15


1.10 a man and his wife or girlfriend, both unnamed.

2.15 Dentist/ Rapist (Ralph Greenleaf) his first patient victim (Claire Page) his second (another Claire, no last name), his wife (Inez) her lover (Marty)

General Subject/ Plot

1.10: a man confronts likenesses of the significant lady of his life outside of their shared home.

2.15: a dentist gets caught taking advantage of a patient under sedation, years later he finds himself in the same situation with a very similar woman.


1.10 Clothing (gabardine, velvet, suede, shorts, flowered dress), alcohol, a literary work (Pierre in another one, the first In Dreams?).

2.15 Claire (two of them both widows both in “forties”), Greenleaf, rape, a nurse, widow, strawberry blond, infidelity, unhappy, murderous thoughts (like the first On the Roof)


The Sacred Fount. “Coincidence, as life proves over and over again, is so routine as to beggar comment.” (A statement from the 2nd…. Although it doesn’t go with the opening Williams quote, is there a sense in which coincidence, of which the book is replete of instances, is the “strange commonplace” referred to in the the book’s title? Also: are we to look on the fact that both Ralph the dentist and Bill the salesperson of the year have the last name Greenleaf as a coincidence or something else? In what sense is it a coincidence, if it is a coincidence? Would it be coicidental if a book had several character sharing the same name, and having similar life experience, which in fact had nothing to do with each other?)

The first of these is especially puzzling. Does the man have one vision of his lady when he’s in her physical presence and another when he’s outside of it? What does the woman’s clothing have to do with this vision? (It does seem that in a Strange Commonplace identity can be closely wrapped up in what one wears. One can be vulnerable, in undergarments, or invulnerable, in a suit, for instance. To change clothes is to change who one is.)

In the second, it’s notable that there are actually two sets of familiar women, the two Claire’s as well as the two nurses. Should maybe be considered how these mirror each other.

After the second, the next three stories in the second book all deal with rape (though in “The Jungle” it’s more a suggestion.) Notable — the first “On The Roof” precedes the first “A Familiar Woman” while the second “On The Roof” preceds the second “A Familiar Woman.”

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