Thursday, July 24, 2014

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

from Rabbit at Rest by John Updike:

Judy, startled just like the girls on the show, does put it back, but by now it’s a commercial, and she cries, as the insult sinks in, “I want Daddy back! Everybody else is mean to me!”

She starts to cry, Pru rises to comfort her, Rabbit retreats in disgrace. He circles the house, listening to the rain, marveling that he once lived here, remembering the dead and the dead versions of the living who lived here with him, finding a half-full jar of dry-roasted cashews on a high kitchen shelf and, on the kitchen television set, a cable rerun of last night’s playoff game between the Knicks and the Bulls. He hates the way Michael Jordan’s pink tongue rolls around in his mouth as he goes up for a dunk. He has seen Jordan interviewed, he’s an intelligent guy, why does he swing his tongue around like an imbecile? The few white players there are on the floor look pathetically naked, their pasty sweat, their fuzzy armpit hair; it seems incredible to Harry that he himself was ever out there in this naked game, though in those days the shorts were a little long and the tank-top armholes not quite so big. He has finished off the jar of cashews without noticing and suddenly the basketball—Jordan changing direction in midair not once but twice and sinking an awkward fall-back jumper with Ewing’s giant hand square in his face—pains him with its rubbery activity, an extreme of bodily motion his nerves but not his muscles can remember. He needs a Nitrostat from the little bottle in the coat jacket in that shallow closet upstairs. The hauntedness of the downstairs is getting to him. He turns off the kitchen light and holds his breath passing Ma Springer’s old breakfront in the darkened dining room, where the wallpaper crawls with the streetlight projections of rain running down the windows.

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