I am charmed by everything Eliot Fintushel does, and that includes his live performance of the entire Book of Revelation, but what I like about the opening of Breakfast with the Ones You Love is that it’s quirky and funny in its rhythms and yet dark–very dark–underneath.
If you want to be safe, a person like myself, you have to kill your face. Otherwise people get their hooks in you, which, who needs it? I already killed my face by the age of twelve. Problem is, my tits invaded. I tried not eating, which I hear stops tits in their tracks, but I couldn’t keep it up. In spite of everything, there is something in you that wants to keep you alive. It’s like a disease that you just can’t shake, no matter how hard you try. At least you can kill your face, see? Me, I can kill people too. I can kill them whenever I want to.
This fragment’s from Jo Walton’s Farthing.
All the same, there was enough of the Northerner left in him to distrust the Hampshire countryside that was doing its best to beguile him. The trees, so much more frequent and so much broader here than on his native moor, were in fullest leaf and cast a delightful shade. Beneath them spread as solid a carpet of bluebells as he had ever seen, sending their scent drifting into the car as he was driven on past them. The sun was shining from a deep blue sky, as it rarely shone on Lancashire, the fields were ploughed and planted, and the hay was already high, the grass was a verdant green, and the birds were singing. As if this wasn’t enough, every few miles the road wound its way through a little village with a church, a pub, a post office, thatched cottages, and just sufficient individuality to tell it from the last one.
What I like about it is that she uses the narrator’s point of view to inject a bit of attitude into the picture-postcard description. On the one hand it’s a lovely, bucolic bit of scenery, and on the other we see the way that gets up this character’s nose. It holds a mirror up to him, you might say, but in an interesting way.
I haven’t been posting many text fragments lately… becoming more of an e-books person has helped me to fall out of the habit of collecting them. But since I’m working on reading more I want to get back into this habit, and I also want to post some of the lovely bits and pieces I’ve collected but never posted. And one of my favorites–even though it’s very short–is this crisp, elegant, utterly perfect image from Samuel R. Delaney.
The moon, revealed once more, was a polished bone joint jammed on the sky.
–Samuel R. Delaney, THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION
What I admire about this is that it has the economy and precision of poetry–it needs nothing more than what it already has.
Kelly’s brother turned up on our doorstep out of the blue some weeks ago. He was on a business trip to Vancouver, and had ended up at a big fancy dinner at Federico’s Supper Club, which is just around the corner from us. So he ducked out and came to visit.
Part of catching up involved his telling us about a recent trip: he and his family had just come back from a Disney Cruise to the Mediterranean. They came back more tired than they were before they left, he said, because they went on so many shore excursions. (And, really–the Mediterranean? How could you not?) Still. The prospect of spending my downtime getting exhausted did not appeal. I vowed then and there to sit on my butt as much as possible while I was cruising.
So last week, amid the visiting and the wandering around various Alaskan towns, I finished Adam Nicholson’s Quarrel with the King: The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War, reread the oft-mentioned Tana French novel In the Woods
and got two thirds of the way through In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory.
The Nicholson book was rough slogging at points. English history isn’t my strong suit, and this covers several generations of Pembroke family history, with regard to their relationship with the Crown. It goes from Henry VIII through to the Revolution. The best part, for me, was Nicholson’s lovely descriptions of the terrain around Salisbury. Here’s a snip:
Early on a summer morning–and you should make it a Sunday, when England stays in bed for hours after the sun has risen, the chalk downland to the west of Wilton slowly reveals itself in the growing light as an open and free-flowing stretch of country, long wide ridges with ripples and hollows within them, separated by river valleys, with an air of Tuscany transported to the north… At first, the larks are up and singing, but everything else is drenched in a golden quiet. Shadows hang in the woods, and the sun casts low bars across the backs of the hills. You will see the deer, ever on the increase in southern England, moving silently and hesitantly in the half-distance. It is a place of slightness and subtley, wide and long-limbed, drawn with a steady pencil.
I think if you already have a background in this era, it’s a delight. Otherwise, consider waiting on it until you know more. I might still try God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (P.S.), but not soon.
I have been trying to sell Kelly on Tana French, so as soon as she wanted In the Woods, I handed it over. (I finished it yesterday.) My initial reaction to the book is here. I was so ambivalent I gave it away, only to realize after the fact that I’d loved it, so we bought a copy for Kelly to read on the cruise.
In Triumph’s Wake is rocking my world, and will get its own post after I’m finished with it. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of tomorrow’s post about our day in Skagway: