“Never would he have imaged that he would one day find himself in such a situation. There he was, a respectable businessman and law-abiding citizen, an intelligent person with a post-graduate education and the subject of articles in the most prestigious scientific and business journals, lying on the floor of a holding cell, in the dark, on remand, suspected of vile crimes and dubious associations, forming part of a sudorous human carpet alongside all manner of tattoed thugs, drug addicts, and common criminals. The overcrowding inside the cell made it impossible to see the floor: chests were pressed against backs, groins against glutei, and shoes against faces; detainees slept on their sides, using each other’s heads or feet as pillows. He had chosen the latter, the kinky hair of black men appearing at best too prickly for him. The temperature exceeded what old-fashioned thermometers were able to register; the walls and ceiling perspired with condensation; there was a constant murmur of breathing and snoring, sniped at every second by coughing, sneezing, and throat-clearing. The air was thicker than lentil soup, and pungent with the stench of perspiration, flatulence, and tooth decay. He was very concerned with keeping his Saville Row suit in good state of repair. Appearances mattered.
Posts Tagged ‘Novels’
Damn it, I’m halfway through John Hawkes’s 1951 “surrealistic Western,” The Beelte Leg,” and I’m wondering if instead I should put it down and start reading something easier , like oh say “The Wasteland” backwards (in the dark of course, under the covers with a flashlight illuminated on every other word). At first the novel reads like “No Country for Old Men” (you know, a Western, sparse, a sheriff)–but then promptly digresses (that must be the surralism kicking in). Right now I’m taking heart from an Amazon commenter: “This is a surrealistic western, basically, with language so odd, crisp, and surprising that every page has to be savored. Hawkes is a tremendously perceptive writer, whether he’s dealing with the violent or the mundane. Readers should give this and THE BLOOD ORANGES a chance. His voice is strange, and takes time to grow on you; but once it does, his books begin to seem like a mixture of poetry and noir…”
(Note: Hawkes’s “Travesty” is a much more accesible novel if you don’t feel up to “The Beetle Leg” or “Blood Oranges.”)
Update: Hey I think I have this thing in perspective now: I’m using Mindjet’s Mind Manager, mapping the thing, lassoing the intricacies, ballooning them, tagging the parts, dividing the past and present (or the present and the ghostly)…wish me luck.
Tags: Celine, French literature, Novels, William Vollmann, Writing
A few days ago I finished Celine’s “Journey to the End of the Night,” my second reading of this French novel (translated). Only this edition has a new afterward by novelist William Vollmann. He outdoes Celine. I thought Celine was a pretty pessimistic cynical hemorrhoided writer but Vollmann outdoes him right out of the gate: “Reader, fuck you!…You think I give a shit whether or not you’ve read this book…”
Good god man, you’re my new Afterward idol. Lt me try a couple of openers like that:
Reader! You little pigshit scum… [wow, I love saying that].
Reader!…You sleazy MFer…
Reader! You dirty slimeball….
I’m sorry, Reader, I gotta stop; I’m getting carried away with invective…
Tags: Jewel of Medina, Novels, Random House, Sherry Jones
We all know about the recent events concerning the the on-going death threats against Salmon Rushdie, the Danish cartoon riots, the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh, the hounding of the “apostate” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the withdrawal of publication of Sherry Jones book The Jewel of Medina, “a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet’s harem” plus a host of other threats and demonstrations against criticsms (even when that criticism takes the from of reading actual hateful passages of the Koran itself) of Islam. I thought all of this was something that started with today’s radical muslims, where they aspire to trample the basic liberty of Western free speech. I had no idea this fascistic intolerance goes back hundreds of years. What’s especially interesting for here is Random House’s revoking the publication of The Jewel of Medina. I’ve been reading The Portable Enlightenment Reader and came across an excerpt from Le Mariage De Figaro (1778) by Pierre De Beaumarchais, whose main character, describing a cynical progression of failings in his life, concludes with–”when I turned to a very different trade, and threw myself into the life of the theater. What a stone I hung around my neck that time! I sketched a comedy about harem life; being a Spanish writer [Catholic], I assumed I could be irreverent towards Mohammed…but at once an Envoy from somewhere complained that my verses offended the Sublime Porte [The slamic court at Constantinople], Persia, a part of India, all Egypt, the kingdoms of Barca, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco; and there was my comedy burned, to please some Mohammedan princes not one of whom I suppose knows how to read, and who keeps curising away at us all as ‘Christian dogs’–not being able to degrade the human spirit, they take revenge by abusing it.” After several centuries it seems the Sublime Porte is still at it.