Monday, November 27, 2006

Great Big Book of Everything

I've embarked upon The Recognitions by William Gaddis. It weighs two pounds in paperback and runs to almost a thousand pages. Recently I've been struggling to get through anything, bookwise, to the point where I might have abandoned Bonjour Tristesse mid-sentence, halfway through, for fear that there was something else I should rather have been doing. Anyway, I'm confronting this sudden incapacity with a blunt object; a vast, sprawling, apparently difficult book stuffed with erudition on Early Northern and Flemish Art and Calvinism. Three characters have already died (one of them a monkey) and I'm only fifty pages in. It's terribly overwritten, in a sense, no noun escapes an (obscure) adjective and no action an adverb. The overall effect is surprisingly convincing, however, and one suspects that perhaps the author is either pulling your leg, or aiming to tune the reader in to a kind of mediaeval metaconsciousness , with the gothic layering of modifiers.

I've had to buy a new sofa on which to read it, which makes it a pretty expensive undertaking. I'm optimistic that I'll succeed. Finishing a big book is one of those things that I need to do to reassure myself that things will be normal again soon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Which I Meet Another Slightly More Famous Actress and Am Alarmed By the Conversion of an Old Friend

Samantha Morton came into the shop today. She has a daughter a little older than my own. We talked about light switches, though, rather than parenting small girls, neither child being present. She was dressed down. I had WD-40 on my favourite cotton jumper - it's off-white so you could see the stain forming - which made everyone feel relaxed. Her husband-to-be might buy some castors from me. After she went I read about her.

Human chemistry is a curious thing. Morton has an edgy on-screen presence, her performances don't always seek the sympathy of the audience. The journalists who write about her seem to start off on the back foot, accordingly. Which perhaps makes her uncomfortable. Anyway she seemed jolly simpatico to me and not extraordinary in the least, which in itself is remarkable, because she is an extraordinary actress, I think.

The night that Tyson fought Bruno I was at Jake's house, not sleeping with a girl called Helen, whose face might have launched a small flotilla. I was at that cynical stage of late adolescence where I was prepared to overlook some serious character flaws in order to get some love during the holidays. Helen was slender, absurdly pretty, and deadly dull. No, not deadly dull, but not interesting to me other than in the way that any girl is interesting to a teenage boy. She had boring parents, so it probably wasn't her fault. If I'd turned out that way, or if my good friend Martin had, we'd have no alibi. While I'm busy not sleeping with Helen Jake has worked out that her sexy and interesting friend Jo who wanted to sleep with me but couldn't surmount my misguided crush on her prettier but decidedly less charismatic chum would probably make herself available to him just to spite me. (I found this out later). While we were talking about "Emma" and waiting for the fight to start Jake and Jo were upstairs fucking. Well, this is what we assumed. They rejoined us half-an-hour later. Jo was barefoot, and a pair of tangled knickers fell out of her turned-up jeans and rested on the tiled floor like an accusation.

I thought about that evening earlier today, so I googled Jake. He's a monk now, in the Army of Jesus, he's been celibate for years, and wouldn't you know it, he has a blog. Life, truly, is rich and strange.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's Not My Home, It's Their Home...

The house is up for sale. That'll be the house where I was born. Where my sister was born. Where I grew up. Where I slept with my first two girlfriends (and some subsequent girlfriends - the ordinal details are a little hazy). Where we all got terribly sick last Christmas. Where we held wakes for two departed parents. Just when you think everything is final some new finality comes up and smacks you in the face. My sister has cleared the place of much of its clutter and doubtless some of its charm. It looks different in the photos, apart from the shed, bastion of banished males - my father and I, essentially - on Sunday afternoons. We'd go down there and burn things. It was beautiful.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Twilight approaches

It got cold in a hurry. The skin on my hands and lips is drying and rupturing in protest. My bladder is confused. I am obliged to wear either a rollneck, which makes me look old and chunky, or a scarf, which makes me look affected and possibly homosexual. Not that I think there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, as long as you are. Gay, that is. Apparently my brain is feeling the chill too. There are some obvious consolations, of course. You can retrieve your winter coats from the dry cleaners, there are fireworks, which last a month, it seems, nowadays, and the dipping sun in a clear sky casting fabulous shadows on the buildings around where I work. Sometimes, as the afternoon turns into evening, I get five minutes to watch the light creep up the church and disappear.