Saturday, February 6, 2016

the last book I ever read (Elvis Costello's Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, excerpt one)

from Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello:

Back in early ’78, I’d asked Mick Jones to play on our next single, “Pump It Up,” and someone started the ridiculous rumor that we were actually trying to poach him to be The Attractions’ lead guitarist, and since then there had been a little bit of a “hands off” attitude between our managers. The idea was never remotely in my mind and we didn’t even end up using Mick’s guitar on “Pump It Up,” although he did play a great part that sounded like police sirens on “Big Tears,” the B-side of the single.

Now Mick was out on the studio floor with the volume and the reverb on his amp cranked all the way up to “obliterate.” I thought to myself, That’ll never work. But when London Calling came out I couldn’t believe how great everything sounded. I was completely and utterly wrong. It sounded ragged and thrilling.

Friday, February 5, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt twelve)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

“Get out. Go and make a speech on television. Write a novel, or run off back to Athens. If they send me home from here, don’t any of you try to come anywhere near me, Adélka has left her scissors here and I’ll use them on anyone who comes near me. Why are you so concerned about my fate? There are plenty of care homes. This is the most wonderful country in the world, and I’ve the legal right to be sick for two whole years. That’s what your friend said. Now go. I’ve things to do.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt eleven)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

We both stayed silent. Never had there been a more mysterious, more mute or inscrutable figure than hers that afternoon, with the dark descending and the branches beating on the windows. I sat down next to her, with the NO VISITORS sign in my hands.

“How many cats are left?” she finally asked, from behind her veil. Her voice was every bit as unreal as her invisible face.

At this stage it would make no difference.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt ten)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

Easter fell early that year, at the beginning of April, and our last day there was Good Friday. I have an enduring memory of going to church, and of the dead Christ laid out on a bier. A gilded basket stood in the doorway, filled with rose petals, and as you entered you scattered them over the body of the Son of God, until He was completely covered. Later, they rang the bell in a little campanile, and all the old people of the village came and stood around it. When they noticed us in the entrance to the church throwing handfuls of petals over the sacred corpse, they came up to my husband and gestured to him that he should join them in mourning the Saviour. I can still see him ringing the bell, his thick blond hair, already shot with grey, tugged by the sea breeze. Next they put the bell rope into my hands. I think I must have pleased them, because I wept copiously all the time I was pulling it, but the tears had nothing to do with the ceremony, they were only for myself. The next day we went back to Athens and left for home from Helicon airport. The journey was as unreal as they always are. The Greek writers were kinder to me than seemed possible, pressing farewell baskets laden with gifts into my hands as to someone who had been knocked over by a goods train. They even accompanied us to the airport. If they never again invite another Hungarian writer, I am the cause.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt nine)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

Fury – and fever – blazed rose-red in her face, and she resumed her sweeping with even greater violence, as if she had a personal vendetta with the snow, which she alone could settle. Sutu and the handyman’s wife, she shouted after me, were bringing her food, enough for the whole street, so there was nothing for me to worry about. She hated being spied on; she’d never in her life gone in for hysterics, but if we nagged her enough she might experiment to see what it was like. Her words were drowned by choking, followed by a fit of coughing, then she turned away. Those days she never had Viola with her. She said she didn’t have time to run around with him, and it wasn’t good for a dog to stay still; so I should take him home, into the warmth. There was no need for him to catch a cold as well.

Monday, February 1, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt eight)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

I could no longer make out her face. The sky had suddenly clouded over. All day I had been expecting rain and so far it had held off, but it is almost always windy on Good Friday, with driving rain. Now, towards the end of the day, the tears of lamentation for Christ were arriving once again, if rather later. I couldn’t go back. They were falling in fat drops, and the legendary wind had sprung up afresh, signaling the outbreak of a storm, as if the universe were panting for air, or had begun to breathe in our ears. I knew the one thing Emerence dreaded was a storm, and that there was no point in resisting. If I didn’t go with her she would drag me back in. Viola had drawn his tail in and was whimpering. He was already on the porch, scratching at the eternally closed door, wanting to hide. The lightning had begun to slash the sky and thunder rumbled between the howls of the dog. It was all pure electricity, a sudden sheet of pure blue flame, then nothing but pure water and perfect blackness.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

the last book I ever read (The Door by Magda Szabó, excerpt seven)

from The Door by Magda Szabó:

In my student days, I detested Schopenhauer. Only later did I come to acknowledge the force of his idea that every relationship involving personal feeling laid one open to attack, and the more people I allowed to become close to me, the greater the number of ways in which I was vulnerable. It wasn’t easy to accept that from now on I would always have to consider Emerence. Her life had become an integral part of my own. This led to the dreadful thought that one day I would lose her, that if I survived her there would be yet another addition to those ubiquitous, indefinable shadow-presences that wrack me and drive me to despair.