Saturday, July 19, 2014

the last book I ever read (John Updike's Rabbit at Rest, excerpt one)

from Rabbit at Rest by John Updike:

Janice is at his side again. She is breathless, excited. “Harry, hurry,” she says. “They’re here, ten minutes early, there must have been a tail wind from Newark. I came out of the Ladies and went down to the gate and couldn’t find you, you weren’t there. Where were you?”

“Nowhere. Just standing here by the window.” That plane he had mentally exploded hadn’t been their plane at all.

Heart thumping, his breath annoyingly short, he strides after his little wife down the wide gray carpeting. Her pleated tennis skirt flicks at the brown backs of her thighs and her multilayered white Nikes look absurdly big at the end of her skinny legs, like Minnie Mouse in her roomy shoes, but Janice’s getup is no more absurd than many in this crowd of greeters: men with bankers’ trim white haircuts and bankers’ long grave withholding faces wearing Day-Glo yellow-green tank tops stenciled CORAL POINT or CAPTIVA ISLAND and tomato-red bicycle shorts and Bermudas patterned with like fried eggs and their permed and thick-middled women in these ridiculous one-piece exercise outfits like long flannel underwear in pink or blue, baby colors on Kewpie-doll shapes, their costumes advertising the eternal youth they have found like those skiers and tennis players and golfers now who appear on television laden with logos like walking billboards. The hunchbacked little Jewish guy in such a hurry has already met his loved one, a tall grinning woman, a Rachel or Esther with frizzed-out hair and a big pale profile, carrying over one arm her parka from Newark, her plump dumpy mother on the other side of her, Grace was her name, while the old man with angry choppy gestures is giving the women the latest version of his spiel, they listening with half an ear each to this newest little thing he feels very strongly about. Rabbit is curious to see that this grown daughter, a head taller than her parents, appears to have no mate. A tall black man, slick-looking in a three-piece gray suit, but nothing of a dude, carrying himself with a businesslike Waspy indifference to his appearance and lugging one of those floppy big bags that smart travellers use and that hog all the overhead rack space, is trailing unnaturally close behind. But he can’t be a relation, he must be just trying to pass, like that black chick in the red Camaro coming in off 75. Everybody tailgating, that’s the way we move along now.

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