Sunday, June 19, 2016

the last book I ever read (Donald Antrim's The Hundred Brothers, excerpt seven)

from The Hundred Brothers: A Novel by Donald Antrim:

Did I present such a sorrowful picture? It is true that I slouch a bit. I try not to hunch over, but I’m not getting any younger, and my shoulders ache after a wintry night sitting in a straight-backed library chair, straining my eyes over water-stained property deeds, blurry date-of-death certificates, illegibly written ships’ registries. When I get up, I’m bushed and I stoop. I don’t think my hair is that bad. My hair is naturally fine and growing thin on top, it’s a fact, and for this reason I leave it long on the sides—just below the ears. Don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t wear a “comb over.” There is nothing more vulgar on a mature man than a comb over. I brush my hair in the morning and, after that, pretty much let it fly where the wind blows it. My clothes, I admit, are a few seasons out of date. What about this? I’ve never followed fashion and I don’t trust men—I’m thinking of the twins with their colorful, expensive matching sweaters—who heed the latest styles. It may be that this particular outfit of mine—navy corduroy jacket with patch pockets, my worsted wool “duck hunting” trousers with their frayed and grimy cuffs, clothes I’m comfortable wearing—would seem, to a bystander, small and rather tight, possibly even constricting. I admit I have recently put on an inch or two around the middle. Like I said, I’m not getting any younger. Of course, midbody weight gain will naturally force a garment to shift. These coat sleeves could be let out. It probably would not hurt to have a tailor cut down the lapels. I suspect that Hiram would have had less to say about my general appearance and demeanor if there had not been so much blood—Maxwell’s blood—staining my tie and shirtfront.

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