There’s a bookshelf in the foyer of the Mammoth Lakes Library that offers giveaway books. I’m not sure who decides which books are giveaways, and most of us probably tend to ignore the giveaway shelf because … there are so many damn books in the world calling for our attention. Why waste a minute scanning the discard pile?
Well, because they’re free.
A few weeks back I scan the shelf and see a copy of “Rabbit At Rest” by John Updike. Which just happened to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1990. So I pick it up. There are three preceding books in Updike’s “Rabbit” series: Rabbit, Run. Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich. I haven’t read any of them.
But this one appealed to me. Not sure why. Perhaps it was the title, which suggested a meditation on life, on mortality.
And I remember my father mentioning the Rabbit series as something he liked.
But my overarching thought is, “The library doesn’t have room for another copy of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book? What’s become of us?”
Or maybe, there’s life before the internet, and life after the internet, and pre- Smartphone novels written by now-dead white men about America are no longer deemed relevant.
*That said, I can’t be the only one sick of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Her fifteen minutes should have ended twenty minutes ago. I think we need to pack her and Donald off to a desert island somewhere and consider it a fair trade. Addition by subtraction.
I start the book. The main character, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, is a mostly-retired, 55-year old former car salesman who spends half the year in Florida. And he’s been mostly-retired for three or four years. He eats junk food, has a heart condition, plays golf, watches television and is largely bored out of his mind.
While his son runs the family business into the ground back in Pennsylvania. Via his nose. Cocaine problem.
But I couldn’t get over that number. 55. It seems to me like that number, over the past thirty years since the book’s publication, has migrated northwards a decade or more. Set the novel in 2020 and he’d be 65. 70. If you write the novel at all. Who the hell retires these days – unless you have a public sector job?
But what I found most interesting – over the course of the book, Rabbit’s wife and son and those around him, old friends and colleagues, evolve while Rabbit … just doesn’t. Except perhaps, at the very end, when he realizes that the world (his defined and limited world) doesn’t care to chase after his opinion any longer. Only then does he emerge from his torpor and engage with those outside his circle.
How come it’s so hard for people to bust out of their tightly wound circles?
There was a front page article in the Wall Street Journal Monday about insurers pulling out of California in the wake of catastrophic wildfire losses over the past two years which have cost insurers $23 billion.
State Insurance Commissioner Richard Lara is quoted as saying, “Homeowners in any area with high risk will likely have fewer options for coverage.”
Will this affect us locally?
Anecdotally, Eric Olson of Olson Insurance says yes … and not really.
More people are affected, sure, by an increase in insurer volatility – more insurers issuing non-renews and exiting the state. But as Olson said, from a historical perspective, this is not unusual. Insurers come. Insurers go.
What stays the same? It’s gonna be more expensive.
“I think you’re going to see double-digit [price] increases for this year,” he said, “and they’ll probably make money hand-over-fist, and you’ll never see the rates go back down,” he added in trademark deadpan.
He did note that California’s FAIR Plan, the market of last resort (they’ll insure you if no one else will), has announced a 20% rate hike for this year. That’s the average hike. It’ll be more expensive in higher risk areas
Brett Walters of Brett Walters Insurance says he’s not overly concerned. As an independent broker, like Olson, he has access to private markets that affiliated agents do not.
That said, this is his advice, paraphrased: Whatever happens, consider yourself fortunate if your carrier renews your insurance, and take the renewal offer (no matter how outrageous you may deem the price hike) and don’t let that insurance lapse before you go shopping. In most cases, these renewal offers will still be better than the alternatives.
State Farm’s Dave Easterby says State Farm will not write any new owner-occupied home insurance policies locally.
You’ve got to be an existing customer of at least three years to qualify.
Someone from down south who wants to buy a second home here – they’ve got to be an existing State Farm customer to apply for a home insurance policy.
And State Farm will also not insure in certain areas of Mono County, including Crowley Lake and parts of June Lake.
Easterby did note that history with State Farm (to ultimately obtain home insurance) can be built via a renter’s policy, which covers personal belongings and liability and can cost as little as $20/month.