Books, Thoughts

A Beautiful Distraction

I do have things I want to blog about: a Hampton Sides’ essay on Mormon archaeologists, my inherent shyness interfering with a piece I’m working on, the amazing Irish creme Bundt cake I just baked.  But unfortunately, I’m currently bewitched, bothered & bewildered over this book:


I am happily giving up whole spans of time in order to get lost in this book.  The writing is amazing & there are plenty of jumping off points that get my mind working on parallels to Thomas Wolfe, Toni Morrison & Dostoevsky.  (Oh, Stewart, wouldn’t you be proud?)

I’m in my last 80 pages & I’m dying to finish the novel tonight so I’ll share two brief things with you before I tear myself away.  First, a link to Jeff Wall’s photograph that was inspired by the text.  I had seen it in an art textbook years ago & was the first time my curiosity was piqued about the novel.

Second, an excerpt of the writing, just because it’s so affirming to see a writer having this much fun with language while still being profound.  I’ve been reading whole passages out loud to Kurt & to myself alone just to hear the words:

 

I heard the slight applause splatter up–only to halt with the opening of the door, and I looked down past the rows of chairs to where a hatless young man about my own age was coming into the hall.  He wore a heavy sweater and slacks, and as the others looked up I heard the quick intake of a woman’s pleasurable sigh.  Then the young man was moving with an easy Negro stride out of the shadow into the light, and I saw that he was very black and very handsome, and as he advanced mid-distance into the room, that he possessed the chiseled, black-marble features sometimes found on statues in northern museums and alive in southern towns in which the white offspring of house children and the black offspring of yard children bear names, features and character traits as identical as the rifling of bullets fired from a common barrel.  And now close up, leaning tall and relaxed, his arms outstretched stiffly upon the table, I saw the broad, taut span of his knuckles upon the dark grain of the wood, the muscular, sweatered arms, the curving line of the chest rising to the easy pulsing of his throat, to the square, smooth chin, and saw a small X-shaped patch of adhesive upon the subtly blended, velvet-over-stone, granite-over-bone, Afro-Anglo-Saxon contour of his cheek.

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2 thoughts on “A Beautiful Distraction”

  1. Wow. That passage was fantastic. I’m adding this to my Goodreads to-be-read list.

    …And I’m a little turned on by the gentleman being described.

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