Thursday, October 8, 2015

the last book I ever read (Edmund White's The Beautiful Room is Empty, excerpt six)

from The Beautiful Room is Empty by Edmund White:

Late, very late at night, he’d start raving. He’d try to convince me of some absurdity that appealed to him only because it was the opposite of what all right-minded people believed. He’d oppose divorce because it put asunder what God had joined. Yet I was sure his opposition was inspired by the beauty of the word asunder. He wanted the chance to say it, and to say it in the only proper way, with Old Testament fury. Or he’d fulminate against travel and insist that everyone should stay in his own country, nourished by his native soil. He decided that Soviet-style censorship was defensible, even commendable, since people had no need to know what was happening in other lands.

One hot summer night, so late all the neighboring apartment windows were very dark, he decided we should go out in search of jazz. He showered and combed his wet black hair back, tore a new short out of its Brooks package, and put on a perfectly pressed suit. He looked elegant and vulnerable, his eyes edging away from contact and set into a face of exquisite unhealthiness. He smoked as he did everything else, consciously, looking at the cigarette as though he didn’t quite know what it was for, testing it experimentally.

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