Christmas. With the seasonal cheer comes the ghosts of Christmases past. Happy days sipping mulled wine in sub-zero temperatures; slightly less happy days in a doctor’s office sipping tap water as my mind unravelled. Ah, what a difference a day/month makes!
Trying to rebuild a burnt bridge with A, in the form of a mini book-club. Reading Capote’s In Cold Blood. Great books always make me tremble slightly, to the extent that I end up not reading it at all. Let’s hope it ends happily this time, and I’m not just talking about the book.
The Girl Who Had Everything by Cecily Brown
And the wall is made of light – that entirely credible yet unreal Vermeer light…light like that does not exist, but we wish it did. We wish the sun could make us young and beautiful, we wish our clothes could glisten against our skins, most of all, we wish everyone we knew could be brightened simply by our looking at them, as are the maid with the letter and the soldier with the hat.
The girl with the music sits in another sort of light, the fitful, overcast light of life, by which we see ourselves and others only imperfectly, and seldom.
From Girl Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
I sometimes think to myself what a glorious and traitorous thing the body is. It’s all you have, this bag of skin and bones you live in, yet so often it betrays you with diseases large and small, by sprouting hairs in unlikely places, by drying up when you need it to be wet, by building up layers of blubber when you want to whittle it down to the bone.
Key words of the day: beauty, shame. Continue reading
Much as I like to moan about how I can’t keep up with the circle of lovely marrieds surrounding me, deep down I guess I like being single, up to a point. Can’t quite conceive of a life of shared intimacy, however happy…except maybe in separate flats, in small doses and at scheduled hours.
Even back when things were going swimmingly and I have a more, um, varied pick of suitors, I was the type of person who thinks Valentine’s Day is a joke and would rather get a new piercing than get into a long-term relationship with someone. My periodic bouts of sociability back then was already stretched to the limit by those crazy intense friendships with unattainable females. Oh, and did I mention I broke up with my first love via a typed ‘resignation letter’? (granted, my handwriting had always been atrocious. Continue reading
Around the Neighbourhood, circa 2014 (Home is just round the corner, after the steep stretch)
“In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.” The Famished Road, Ben Okri
It’s a long strange road back to the land of happy valleys and blue skies, full of detours, dead ends and monsters in the disguise of white knights, as well as a few good men (and women). I’m not sure I’m fully there yet, what with the sudden darkening of my mind even on a good day like this (matched by the capricious weather, all sudden showers and squirts of sunshine), but slowly, laboriously, I find myself rejoining the ranks of the sane. This is a strange feeling, happiness, and I am unable to savour it except with caution, for fear it might disappear in an instant.
From left to right: Jean Rhys, Carson McCullers, Primo Levi
“I will tell just one more story… and I will tell it with the humility and restraint of him who knows from the start that his theme is desperate, his means feeble, and the trade of clothing facts in words is bound by its very nature to fail.” – Primo Levi
My reading wish-list for the New Year. That is, if I ever find the energy to read (time – well, that, I have plenty of)
1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (please, please, paperback soon?)
2. The Lagoon by Armand Marie Leroi (again, paperback, pretty please)
3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (the paperback problem persists)
4. The Beautiful Fall – Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake (Yves Saint Laurent grows from shy teenager into fashion supremo in this really readable biography. Dishes the dirt, but still smart and literary – at least, this is from the bits that I’ve read so far!)
5. Saga Volumes 2-4 (Why haven’t i discovered this earlier! Such glorious artwork and smart, heartbreaking writing! The most gripping mainstreamish thing since I finished Sandman years ago)
6. After Theory by Terry Eagleton (I keep promising myself I will finish this)