Passages of Writing: Point Omega by Don DeLillo


Book: Point Omega, Don DeLillo. Picador 2010.

Why: It’s intimate, kind, sad and quiet. The set up of this little piece is that these two men, who don’t really know each other that well, are waiting for something. Can’t say what in case you’d like to read it yourself. Suffice to say there is tension around them and this intimate moment is shrouded in sadness and kindness.

I stood behind him with a pair of scissors and a comb and told him it was time for a haircut.

He turned his head slightly, in inquiry, but I repositioned it and began to trim his sideburns. I talked as I worked. I talked in a kind of audiostream, combing and cutting through the tangled strands on one side of his head. I told him this was different from shaving. The day would come when he’d want to shave and he’d have to do it himself but the hair on his head was a question of morale, his and mine. I said many empty things that morning, matter-of-factly, half believing. I removed the wormy rubberband from the weave of braided hair at the back of his neck and tried to comb and trim. I kept skipping to other parts of the head. He spoke about Jessie’s mother, her face and her eyes, his admiration, voice trailing off, low and hoarse. I felt compelled to trim the hair in his ears, long white fibers curling out of the dark. I tried to unsnarl every inch of matted vegetation before I cut. He spoke about his sons. You don’t know this, he said. I have two sons from the first marriage. Their mother was a paleontologist. Then he said it again. Their mother was a paleontologist. He was remembering her, seeing her in the word. She loved this place and so did the boys. I did not, he said. But this changed over the years. He began to look forward to his time here, he said, and then the marriage broke up and the boys were young men and that was all he was able to say.

p 90.

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: 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: Reading by Moonlight, Brenda Walker.



Book: Reading by Moonlight, Brenda Walker. This edition: Penguin 2010.

Why: This book is a celebration of reading, books and life. Moments in the book had me crying but it’s full of still moments that make you stop think, remember and celebrate life. It’s the details that count.

The part I had jotted down (when reading) was this:

Michael’s cats made themselves comfortable on the windowsills, and in the later afternoon the setting sun shone through the bright red veins in their ears.

But when I went back to read it just now I got a bit lost in it and decided to include more. It’s got all that you see in beautiful writing, scenery, lists of  objects and mouth-watering food, sadness ( the author is ill and states it from the get-go) philosophising on beauty and books, still moments of detail – cats ears and ocean views. It’s all there.

It was Michael, the philosopher at the end of my university corridor, who told me about Schopenhauer and the porcupines. When I was sick he often invited me to his apartment in the afternoon. It’s a wonderful place high above a beach, and, just like his office, is full of surprising objects. If you ever want a pigeon whistle, or the skin of a Russian wolf, or a bronze sea creature made in old Kyoto, or even the nest of a bird that has travelled through a sky you will never see, this is the place to go. Michael has plenty of American poetry and Freud; he offered good coffee or a martini.

I would sit and watch the sea. An armchair was pulled up close to the glass, from where I could look down into coral trees in which parrots squabbled and finally settled at twilight. Freighters anchored on the horizon. Or they moved too slowly to notice, until you glanced up from the coral trees and found they were in another place. Michael’s cats made themselves comfortable on the windowsills, and in the later afternoon the setting sun shone through the bright red veins in their ears. I would leave my shoes at the door and settle in the chair with my feet tucked up under my skirt like a child. Michael always seemed to have the makings of a delicious meal. Crumbed Fremantle sardines. Clams and pasta. Just a small bowl, the smallest possible glass bowl, of plain ice cream.

Once I bought him a bottle of champagne with a decorative twist of wire around its neck. This wasn’t the wire that secured the cork, it was positioned further down, like a necklace. ‘It has no function,’ I said. ‘It’s just beautiful.’

‘Beauty is function, ‘he said, and I thought about Anna Karenina in her ballgown. He was right.

As if to prove the point, he showed me a beautiful thing, a tiny red orchid. When I said it was the colour of the old cloth bindings on my collected works of Dickens, he asked, ‘does everything have to be about books?’

P166, Brenda Walker, Reading my Moonlight.

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