Monday, February 2, 2015

the last book I ever read (Michel Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory, excerpt two)

from The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq:

He awoke suddenly in the middle of the night; the clock said 4:43. The room was hot, suffocatingly so. It was the noise of the boiler that had woken him, but not the usual banging noises; the machine now gave out a prolonged, low-pitched, almost infrasonic roar. He threw open the kitchen window, which was covered in frost, and the freezing air filled the room. Six storeys below, some piglike grunts troubled the Christmas night. He shut the window immediately. Most probably some tramps had gotten into the courtyard; the following day they would take advantage of the Christmas leftovers in the block’s trash cans. None of the tenants would dare call the police to get rid of them—not on Christmas Day. It was generally the tenant on the first floor who ended up taking care of it—a woman aged about sixty, with hennaed hair, who wore garishly colored pullovers, and who Jed guessed was a retired psychoanalyst. But he hadn’t seen her in the last few days. She was probably on holiday—unless she’d died suddenly. The tramps were going to stay for several days; the smell of their defecations would fill the courtyard, preventing everyone from opening their windows. To the tenants they came across as polite, even obsequious, but the fights between them were ferocious, and generally ended with screams of agony rising to the night sky; someone would call an ambulance and a guy would be found bathed in blood, with an ear half ripped off.

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