Passages of Writing: Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

 

 

Book: Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis. 2010 Alfred A. Knoph.

 

Why: The many ‘ands’ create a desperately increasing anxiousness that builds up to a crescendo of awfullness. The increasing number of ‘ands’ gives you a sense of hurried breathless anxiety. Speeds the pace up as well as initiating expectation and stress.

 

Driving along sunset I keep checking the rearview mirror and Julian sits in the passenger seat texting someone, probably Rain, and I keep turning on the radio and then turning it off but he doesn’t notice, and then we’re crossing Highland and the Eurythmics song fades into a voice from the radio talking about the aftershocks from an earthquake earlier, something that I slept through, and I have to roll down all the windows and pull the car over three times in order to steady myself because I keep hearing sirens all around us and my eyes are fixed on the rearview mirror because two black Escalades are following us and the last time I pull over, in front of the Cinerama Dome, Julian finally asks, “what’s wrong? Why do you keep stopping?” and where Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood intersect I smile at him coolly as if this is all going to be okay, because in the condo I felt like I was sinking into a rage but now, turning onto Hillhurst, I’m feeling better.

Outside a building past Franklin that’s surrounded by eucalyptus trees Julian gets out of the BMW, and starts walking toward the entrance just as I receive a text that says don’t get out of the car

p160

 

The ranch house was in the movie colony and had walls that were cream-colored and mirrored and pillars that lined the pool shaped like a baby-grand and raked gravel blanketed the yard and small planes flew above it in the dry air before landing at the airport nearby. At night the moon would hang over the silver-rimmed desert and the streets were empty and the girl and the boy would get stoned by the fire pit and sometimes dogs could be heard barking over the wind thrashing the palm trees as I pounded into the girl and the house was infested with crickets and the boy’s mouth was warm but I didn’t feel anything until I hit him, always panting, my eyes gazing at the steam rising from the pool at dawn.

165

Passages of Writing: At Swim-two-birds by Flann O’brien.

Book: At Swim-two-birds, Flann O’brien. First pub. 1939. This ed.Penguin Modern Classics 2001.

Why:  This is one of my all time favourite books, as with all books it’s not to everyone’s taste. I’m reading it for the second time as I always promised myself I would.

It’s the pacing and rhythm, the unique details in aid of the ‘show don’t tell’ rule, the many stories in one  (meta-fictional aspect) and as the book goes on the bizare happenings like the characters of a story who revolt against the author, that get me.

Three fifties of fosterlings could engage with handball against the wideness of his backside, which was large enough to halt the march of men through a mountain pass.

p9

I know the studying you do in your bedroom, said my uncle. Damn the studying you do in your bedroom.

I denied this.

Nature of denial: Inarticulate, of gesture.

p11

I closed my eyes, hurting slightly my right stye, and retired into the kingdom of my mind. For a time there was complete darkness and an absence of movement on the part of the cerebral mechanism.

13

There was nothing unusual in the appearance of Mr. John Furriskey but actually he had one distinction that is rarely encountered – he was born at the age of twenty-five and entered the world with a memory but without a personal experience to account for it. His teeth were well-formed but stained by tobacco, with two molars filled and a cavity threatened in the left canine.

p9

Passages of Writing: Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis



Book: Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis. 2010 Alfred A. Knoph.

Why:  When you think of describing fear, it’s not this that you think about but boy can you feel it, and see it.This is that fear/anxiety about life.

And, fear in, ‘spray-on tans and the teeth stained white.’ – perfect.

Texting is (naturally) creeping into modern books, but always seems so out of place, as though authors know they have to put it in as it’s what (most) people do (almost) everyday, but just can’t get it feeling natural. It’s perfect here, playing a kind of secondary narrative to the topic – fear.

It’s inspiring – off to pretend to be B.E.E. for a while now…..

When I scan the darkened room, smiling back at unfamiliar people, the fear returns and soon it’s everywhere and it keeps streaming forward: it’s in the looming success of the film we just watched, it’s in the young actors’ seductive questions about possible roles in ‘The Listeners’, and it’s in the texts they send walking away, their faces glowing from the cell light as they cross the cavernous lobby, and it’s in the spray-on tans and the teeth stained white. ‘I’ve been in New York the last four months’ is the mantra, my mask an expressionless smile.

p16

Passages of Writing: Truth by Peter Temple.


Book: Truth, Peter temple. First pub: The Text Publishing Company 2009. This ed: The Text Publishing Company 2010. pbk.

Why: he could have said, ‘ran his fingers through his hair.’ Which is very boring. No, he was consulting his hair. They had a meeting. Stalling and having a think. Big difference.

‘Explain the building to me Mr. Manton, Just an outline.’

Manton’s right hand consulted his hair.

P8

Passages of Writing: Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

Book:  Point Counter Point, Aldous Huxley. First pub: Penguin 1928. This edition: Penguin 1974.

Why: I love the juxtaposition and banter of the two conversations at once, both ignoring the other. It’s how I plan to get my teenage children to their next immunizations. And, I hope to manage a similar interaction in my own book.

His terror, his anxious impatience became almost hysterical.

‘No. I can’t, I really can’t,’ he protested when Spandrell had told him that he must spend the evening at Tantamount House.

‘All the same,’ said the other, ‘you’re damned well going to,’ and he headed the car into the mall. ‘I’ll drop you at the door.’

‘No, really!’

‘And if necessary kick you in.’

‘But I couldn’t stand being there, I couldn’t stand it.’

‘This is an extremely nice car,’ said Spandrell pointedly changing the subject. ‘Delightful to drive.’

‘I couldn’t stand it,’ Illidge whimperingly repeated.

‘I believe the makers guarantee a hundred miles an hour on the track.’

They turned up past St James’s Palace into Pall Mall.

‘Here you are,’ said Spandrell, drawing up at the Kerb. Obediently, Illidge got out…

P397

Passages of Writing: The Watch Tower, Elizabeth Harrower.

 

 

Book: The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower. First Published 1966 Macmillan. This edition: The Text Publishing Company – e-book.

 

Why: The book starts off with, “Now that your father’s gone-…’Dead,’ she corrected herself firmly…” and this is the impetus for change in the two little girls’ lives. (It’s the hook, I guess – someone has died.)

 

But there is a differing in responses to the news and in a few short concise paragraphs we quickly understand  that the mother, the headmistress and the children all feel differently and this is emphasized by the paragraph starting with ‘A Magpie..’  with everyone going quiet for a moment as if stunned, or speechless. It’s a great lesson on how to do that.

I love that moment because the author is bestowing on the reader the intelligence to get it without explaining it and we all sit quietly for a moment understanding. (And who doesn’t like being told their intelligent.)

As a reader you are taken out of the little meeting in the head mistress’s office and zoom right out to view it from a distance and forced to slow your pace to realise the magnitude of what is being said to the children. And at the same time given more of a sense of what sort of person the mother is: ‘…or some other bush bird she hoped never to hear in town…’

( Also love that she mentions currowongs, who writes about currowongs in their writing? We used to have a currawong – his name was Colin)

 

 

 

‘When I’ve sold the house and found a flat in the city, ‘the girls’ mother continued, taking in the exchange of the looks dryly, ‘I’ll let Miss Lambert know.’

A magpie or a currawong, or some other bush bird she hoped never to hear in town, gave it’s careless, beautifully deliberate call from a giant blue gum in the distance outside the school grounds. (Someone sighed) Closer at hand there were energetic sounds from the tennis courts, and laughter.

p.1. The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower.

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