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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reprise? So soon?

Above: sun through frost stars on passenger side window as we head to Northport to retrieve our mail. David driving, on a mission, no time to stop for photography along the way. The house is pandemonium, stacks of maps, books, clothes and other necessities everywhere, and while I'm over halfway through The Gargoyle, my thoughts about it are not organized enough to share, except to note that I'm still struggling over my Hobbit Barrier (personal problems with medieval fantasy) to stay with this book.

A different book arrived yesterday in the mail and hopped to the top of our trip reading list. The title slips my mind at the moment, but it's a travel memoir by a young man in about 1930, exploring an island--maybe in the Bahamas?--and should serve a delightful antidote for the frozen landscape we'll be traversing on our way to Illinois tomorrow.

And though I only said good-by to James Joyce the other day, I'm bringing him back onstage for another bow. Below are the excerpts Steve chose for us to read aloud at our last meeting.
bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him
by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
—Introibo ad altare Dei.
Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called up
—Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!
Ugly and futile: lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail's
bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart.
But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a
squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from
her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life?
Paris rawly waking, crude sunlight on her lemon streets. Moist pith of
farls of bread, the froggreen wormwood, her matin incense, court the air.
Belluomo rises from the bed of his wife's lover's wife, the kerchiefed
housewife is astir, a saucer of acetic acid in her hand. In Rodot's Yvonne
and Madeleine newmake their tumbled beauties, shattering with gold teeth
chaussons of pastry, their mouths yellowed with the pus of flan breton.
Faces of Paris men go by, their wellpleased pleasers, curled conquistadores.
Boland's breadvan delivering with trays our daily but she prefers
yesterday's loaves turnovers crisp crowns hot. Makes you feel young.
Somewhere in the east: early morning: set off at dawn. Travel round in
front of the sun, steal a day's march on him. Keep it up for ever never grow
a day older technically.
—My wife too, he said. She's going to sing at a swagger affair in the Ulster
Hall, Belfast, on the twentyfifth.
—That so? M'Coy said. Glad to hear that, old man. Who's getting it up?
Mrs Marion Bloom. Not up yet. Queen was in her bedroom eating
bread and. No book. Blackened court cards laid along her thigh by sevens.
Dark lady and fair man. Letter. Cat furry black ball. Torn strip of envelope.
—And tell us, Hynes said, do you know that fellow in the, fellow was over
there in the...
PARHe looked around.
PAR—Macintosh. Yes, I saw him, Mr Bloom said. Where is he now?
PAR—M'Intosh, Hynes said scribbling. I don't know who he is. Is that his
Pause. J. J. O'Molloy took out his cigarettecase.
False lull. Something quite ordinary.
Messenger took out his matchbox thoughtfully and lit his cigar.
I have often thought since on looking back over that strange time that
it was that small act, trivial in itself, that striking of that match, that
determined the whole aftercourse of both our lives.
Never know anything about it. Waste of time. Gasballs spinning
about, crossing each other, passing. Same old dingdong always. Gas: then
solid: then world: then cold: then dead shell drifting around, frozen rock,
like that pineapple rock. The moon. Must be a new moon out, she said. I
believe there is.
9) Marilyn
Fabulous artificer. The hawklike man. You flew. Whereto?
Newhaven-Dieppe, steerage passenger. Paris and back. Lapwing. Icarus.
Pater, ait. Seabedabbled, fallen, weltering. Lapwing you are. Lapwing be.
As the glossy horses pranced by Merrion square Master Patrick Aloysius
Dignam, waiting, saw salutes being given to the gent with the topper and
raised also his new black cap with fingers greased by porksteak paper. His
collar too sprang up.
Shrill, with deep laughter, after, gold after bronze, they urged each
each to peal after peal, ringing in changes, bronzegold, goldbronze,
shrilldeep, to laughter after laughter. And then laughed more. Greasy I
knows. Exhausted, breathless, their shaken heads they laid, braided and
pinnacled by glossycombed, against the counterledge. All flushed (O!),
panting, sweating (O!), all breathless.
Before departing he requested that itshould be told to his dear son Patsy
that the other boot which he had beenlooking for was at present under the
commode in the return room and thatthe pair should be sent to Cullen's to
be soled only as the heels were stillgood. He stated that this had greatly
perturbed his peace of mind in theother region and earnestly requested that
his desire should be made known. Assurances were given that the matter
would be attended to and it was intimated that this had given satisfaction.
He is gone from mortal haunts: O'Dignam, sun of our morning. Fleet
was his foot on the bracken: Patrick of the beamy brow. Wail, Banba, with
your wind: and wail, O ocean, with your whirlwind.
The summer evening had begun to fold the world in its mysterious
embrace. Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all
too fleeting day lingered lovingly on sea and strand, on the proud
promontory of dear old Howth guarding as ever the waters of the bay, on
the weedgrown rocks along Sandymount shore and, last but not least, on
the quiet church whence there streamed forth at times upon the stillness the
voice of prayer to her who is in her pure radiance a beacon ever to the
stormtossed heart of man, Mary, star of the sea.
The voices blend and fuse in clouded silence: silence that is the infinite of space:
and swiftly, silently the soul is wafted over regions of cycles of generations that
have lived. A region where grey twilight ever descends, never falls on wide
sagegreen pasturefields, shedding her dusk, scattering a perennial dew of stars.
Order in court! The accused will now make a bogus statement.
Bloom, pleading not guilty and holding a fullblown waterlily,
begins a long unintelligible speech.
Another thing just struck him as a by no means bad notion was he might have a
gaze around on the spot to see about trying to make arrangements about a concert
tour of summer music embracing themost prominent pleasure resorts... something
top notch, an all star Irish caste, the Tweedy-Flower grand opera company with his
own legal consort as leading lady...
Which domestic problem as much as, if not more than, any other frequently
engaged his mind?
What to do with our wives.
stealing my potatoes and the oysters 2/6 per doz going out to see her aunt if
you please common robbery so it was but I was sure he had something on
with that one it takes me to find out a thing like that he said you have no
proof it was her proof O yes her aunt was very fond of oysters

The sun is shining, the world is bright, and this is my true 600th post. I discovered after announcing the 600th yesterday that it was only the 599th. Better to reach a milestone on a sunny day, anyway, in my book.


P. J. Grath said...

Please excuse the formatting of the excerpts. I'm not sure what happened.

Anonymous said...

Are you off to Florida tomorrow? Or is that today? Hopefully you will enjoy a wonderful safe trip and report to us when you're settled. (Or sooner if you have a laptop and inclination!) Love the sun through the frost spots. Looks like you succeeded even though David's mission prevented more leisurely photography.

Looking at your list of books to possibly read is always inspiring. Do you find you have more or less time to read when you get to Florida and aren't busy in the store?

Anonymous said...

Almost everything is better on a lovely sunny day in winter. Happy 600th Anniversary! ("Sounds like something one might read in The Hobbit, doesn't it?" she asked, grinning wickedly.)

And now, yes, I will read Ulysses, yes, I will, yes.

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy and Gerry, hi! We'll be off in the morning, and by then I should have finished THE GARGOYLE, with its (get this, Gerry!) supposedly 700-year-old characters. The book I'll read to David in the car is INAGUA: AN ISLAND SOJOURN, by Gilbert C. Klingel, republished (1947; republished by Lyons & Burford, 1997) in the "Wilder Places" series, all books in the series chosen and introduced by Stephen J. Bodio. Inagua "is the name of a very lonely and nearly forgotten island." Between the Introduction and Chapter I there is a map, drawn by hand, covering two facing pages.

Kathy, yes, I have a lot more reading time in Florida. For one thing, I am without the daily demands of my bookstore, which takes a lot of mental energy as well as time. For another thing, we don't have much social life there. It's mostly David and me and the dog. We take walks, go to the library, visit the dog park (and talk to friendly people there) but do a lot of staying home, reading, writing, painting (David) and drawing (me). The pace is completely different from our Michigan life.

Gerry, do think seriously about getting together a group to read ULYSSES, with someone knowledgeable and energetic to organize readings and meetings. I cannot overstate the difference this makes!

Mr G said...

I've read through those Ulysses excerpts several times now. They really show Joyce's humor and versatilty. What a mind! What fun we had. I'm reading Gargantua and Pantagruel (some in french, most in english). The introduction compares Rabelais to Joyce. I suspected that Joyce got some ideas from Francois. They are kindred spirits. I hope that you and David have a great time in Florida.

P. J. Grath said...

Hi, Mr. G! You weren't kidding about GARGANTUA ET PANTAGRUEL! We read part of it in h.s. French, but do I remember anything? Nothing! Do you recommend an adult re-reading?

We are in Joliet, Illinois, visiting my mother for a couple of days. It is even colder here than it was in Northport! Lots of snow, a fair amount of sunshine, frigid wind across the prairie. Strange at night: no dark sky. So much ambient light, impossible to see stars. But very good to see and be with my mom.