Friday, October 10, 2014

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth McCracken's Thunderstruck & Other Stories, excerpt one)

from Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken:

She cackled a very European cackle, pride and delight in her ownership of the lusterware duck, whose name was Trudy. “The sole exhibit in the museum. When I am dead, people will know nothing about me.” This was a professional opinion: she was a museum consultant. In Normandy she was helping set up an exhibition in a stone cottage that had been owned by a Jewish family deported during the war. In Paris, it had been the atelier of a minor artist who’d been the longtime lover of a major poetess; in Denmark, a workhouse museum. Her specialty was the air of recent evacuation: you know something terrible had happened to the occupants but you hoped it might still be undone. She set historic spectacles on desktops and snuggled appropriate shoes under beds and did not overdust. Too much cleanliness made a place dead. In Rome she arranged an exhibit of the commonplace belongings of Ezra Pound: chewed pencils, drinking glasses, celluloid dice, dog-eared book. Only the brochure suggested a connection to greatness. At the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, where they were mere tourists, she lingered with admiration over Andersen’s upper plate and the length of rope that he traveled with in case of hotel fire. “You can tell more from dentures than from years of diaries,” she’d said then. “Dentures do not lie.” She herself threw everything out. She did not want anyone to exhibit the smallest bit of her.

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