Tuesday, March 10, 2015

the last book I ever read (Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman, excerpt twelve)

from 2014 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine:

I must do something. I walk out of the bathroom to my reading room, to the compact disc player. I search for Chopin, find one of Richter’s recordings. My head slowly clears. Richter’s Chopin is inspiring.

Sviatoslav Richter refused to give a concert if his pink plastic lobster was not with him. I used to think it was red—I read it somewhere, a red plastic lobster—but then I saw a picture of it. It certainly looked like a crustacean, oversized pincers, but not like a lobster, or at least not like any lobster I’d recognize. And it was pink, a rose pink, not red.

“I find things confusing,” he said on film.

In this film, Richter: The Enigma, he looked baffled and bewildered, befuddled by life. Bald, bony, ragged, and old, a face that couldn’t face the camera, a face that full understood what had been lost, what had been given up. He looked real to me. I don’t know if he was a virgin, but he was a homosexual.

Richter spoke to this plastic lobster and felt lost without his companion. If you talked to him without his lobster, he sounded autistic. When he played, though—when he played he could liquefy your soul. He walked on water—well, his fingers did—liquid supple and fluid smooth, running, dripping, flowing.

“I do not like myself,” he said on film.

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