Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I work in an office on 37th Street close to both Herald Square and Bryant Park. It is a nice area to walk around in. On the way to work, I listen to my headphones because the L train is an ugly thing to ride in the morning, with so many people all crammed in together, no room to even hold a book in front of you. I miss riding the JMZ terribly. On the way home, though, it is early enough in the afternoon that the crowds are thin enough so that I can read. Right now, I am reading Saul Bellow's Herzog and starting it, I found it a bit dry, just as when I started the two other books I read by him. But further into it, passages strike me as magnificent, near perfect assemblages of words. This one I read yesterday, and reread it again today, so in love with it:

Leaving the cab, he thought how his mother would moisten her handkerchief at her mouth and rub his face clean. He had no business to recall this, he knew, and turned toward Grand Central in his straw hat. He was of the mature generation now, and life was his to do something with, if he could. But he had not forgotten the odor of his mother's saliva on the handkerchief that summer morning in the squat hollow Canadian station, the black iron and sublime brass. All children have cheeks and all mothers spittle to wipe them tenderly. These things either matter or they do not matter. It depends upon the universe, what it is. These acute memories are probably symptoms of disorder. To him, perpetual thought of death was a sin. Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. (33)

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