Friday, October 06, 2006


On days off, and the reading of novels

Ryan and I spent much of yesterday on the outskirts of Acadia National Park - a stunning fall day, cold wind but warm sun. I sat in the lee of some trees and sketched the orange and red leaves and blue sky while Ryan ran a third of the Mount Desert Island Marathon course. He's preparing for the race, which happens a week from Sunday. We know the course backwards and forwards, but it helps to get a feel for all the peaks and valleys, as it were. A wonderful day off. I did some reading, too, Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire (Picador 2004). I've been reading way too much poetry lately and felt the need for some circuitous lush prose. Sample sentence: "'After childhood, we become prepared for coldness. It's generosity that disarms us.'" (p.99) And (p.170): "'If the moon came up only once in a hundred years, the whole world would stand watching.'" In a nutshell, our hero manages to fall in love with a verrrry young woman in the post-war and post-colonial East, and the resulting tale is not repulsive in any way, at least in, say, the way that The Lover by Duras is, or the doubly-repulsive Lolita. The Great Fire is more a sweeping traditional romance, although I won't say if it ends happily or not.

A friend of mine came in the shop some time ago, and said she had instructions from her husband to pamper herself and submit to some frivolous luxury (in everyday life she is a rather frugal Quaker). She came to my shop because she said the most luxurious things she could think of were perfumes (which I don't carry) and novels (oh, the decadence...). I would have given her this book to get lost in, had I yet read it myself. Next time.

Novels and walks in the park aside, I'd love to sell some books today. It's been mighty slow this week.

Re: the quote about the moonrise. When I read it, it struck me as incredibly familiar. It's been plaguing me for a long time now, and tonight I finally remembered. This quote is from Christopher Morley's Thunder on the Left: "If there were only one moonshiny night in each century, men would never be done talking of it. Old lying books would be consulted; in padded club chairs grizzled gentry whose grandfathers had witnessed it would prate of that milky perversion that once diluted the unmixed absolute of night. And those who had no vested gossip in the matter would proclaim it unlikely to recur, or impossible to have happened." I wonder if it's a real coincidence or direct, er, borrowing. Anyway, for what it's worth. I know you're a Chris Morley fan. :)

Verrry interesting... I wonder. I wish I could remember which poet got mad when he was accused of plagiarism and said that did his critic think that Ovid (or some such) was the only poet to ever notice that the sea writhed? I paraphrase, but you get the idea. Leave it to Morley, though, a great noticer of romantic details. I love it - thanks, Anne.
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