Saturday, July 09, 2005

Summer Reading

"Once we walked into the house and Rod's dad, who insisted I call him Burt, was sitting in his red chair with his black slippers on, and said, 'Boys, boys, listen to this one,' and just then the needle met the small vinyl grooves of the record and 'Time After Time' by Chet Baker began playing, the strange haunting voice of a man that to me sounded like a woman, so that I asked, 'Wow, who's this lady?' and Rod's dad nodded and laughed and said, 'That's Chet Baker, son, the trumpet player,' and I said, 'He sounds spooky,' and Rod's dad said to Rod, 'This was the first song your mother and I ever made love to,' and I thought that was a little strange for him to say, but I didn't say anything. I just listened, and the more I heard that ghostly, quiet, nighttime voice rising, the more I was thinking about Gretchen and kissing her to a song like that, and then it was over and we were all standing around silent and Rod's dad said, 'That's how you should feel after you hear a good song. Like a brand new man,' and I said, 'Burt, I know what you mean,' and we walked off into Rod's room, still kind of listening." —Joe Meno, Hairstyles of the Damned

"I understood, suddenly, why Hitchcock had given the secret away in the middle of 'Vertigo.' The surprise is revealed because Hitchcock could not see what was surprising. He didn't think that there was anything bizarre in the idea of someone constantly being remade in the image of someone else's schemes or desires or weird plot points, because he thought that this is what life and love consist of. Suspense, not surprise, was the element Hitchcock swam in—not What next? but How will we get to the inevitable place again? Hitchcock himself, after all, did not adapt to circumstances. He made circumstances adapt to him. When Grace Kelly married a prince, there was Kim Novak, and when Kim Novak rebelled there was Tippi Hedren. Every five-year-old has one fish, as every great director has a single Blonde. What Hitchcock's films of the fifties have in common with all the world's religions is the faith that death can be overcome, or at least made tolerable, by repetitive obsession. First the mind, then the pain, and then the echo: that is the order of life. James Stewart learned this and now Olivia had, too." —Adam Gopnik, "Death of a Fish" (The New Yorker: July 4, 2005)

1 comment:

Mike O'D said...

"He steps under the shower, a forceful cascade pumped down from the third floor. When this civilization falls, when the Romans, whoever they are this time round, have finally left and the next dark ages begin, this will be one of the first luxuries to go. The old folk crouching by their peat fires will tell their disbelieving grandchildren of standing naked mid-winter under jet streams of hot clean water, of lozenges of scented soaps and of viscous amber and vermilion liquids they rubbed into their hair to make it glossy and more voluminous than it really was, and of thick white towels as big as togas, waiting on warming racks."
Ian McEwan, "Saturday."

"Herzog was worried about that elm. Must he cut it down? He hated to do it. Meanwhile the cicadas all vibrated in a coil in their bellies, a horny posterior band in a special chamber. Those billions of red eyes from the enclosing woods looked out, stared down, and the steep waves of sound drowned the summer afternoon. Herzog had seldom heard anything so beautiful as this massed continual harshness."
Saul Bellow, "Herzog."