Saturday, September 23, 2006

Giovanni's Room

I read The Fire Next Time a couple of years ago and can barely remember anything about it - really nothing at all - but I do remember that, at the time, I loved it. And I don't know what this means, my inability to recall in detail much of what I have read. I read a lot and love the stuff I do read, but a year or two later, ask me to tell you about that thing, and you will not get much out of my mouth, aside from me telling you this same thing, that I don't retain the details. For me, reading is something else. It's not done for, in later days, being able to recall the details of books with someone or having said I have read it. Rather, it is time away from the world, or perhaps actually time in the world - time away from things that are not the world and which I mistake for it. It's a nice little contemplative time to myself where I can marvel at the abilities of other people to encapsulate nice thoughts in even nicer sentences. I am reading Giovanni's Room right now, and really like it, partly because the narrator is such a catty, hateful person at times. This second quote below is such a good example of that. I just read it and marvelled at what a demolishing zinger this is. Both of these have such a nice rhythmic usage of commas:

That was how I met Giovanni. I think we connected the instant we met. And remain connected still, in spit of our later separation de corps, despite the fact that Giovanni will be rotting soon in unhallowed ground near Paris. Until I die there will be those moments, moments seeming to rise up out of the ground like Macbeth’s witches, when his face will come before me, that face in all its changes, when the exact timbre of his voice and tricks of his speech will nearly burst my ears, when his smell will overpower my nostrils. Sometimes, in the days which are coming—God grant me the grace to live them—in the glare of the grey morning, sour-mouthed, eyelids raw and red, hair tangled and damp from my stormy sleep, facing, over coffee and cigarette smoke, last night’s impenetrable, meaningless boy who will shortly rise and vanish like the smoke, I will see Giovanni again, as he was that night, so vivid, so winning, all of the light of that gloomy tunnel trapped around his head. (59)

Giovanni was far from me, drinking marc between an old man, who looked like a receptacle of all the world’s dirt and disease, and a young boy, a redhead, who would look like that man one day, if one could read, in the dullness of his eye, anything so real as a future. (73)


Last night, I went to Rawhide finally. I got pretty trashed because the bartender was thankfully serving me really stiff drinks. I tried to hit on a couple of older men, none of whom had any interest in me. A rather disappointing night. I then ate two tamales smothered in hot sauce right before I climbed into bed. In the night, those tamales did a little jig on top of my stomach in stilettos, and I woke up with the worst stomachache I have had in recent memory.

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