Friday, December 14, 2018

the last book I ever read (Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers, excerpt three)

from National Book Award Finalist The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai:

Yale was able to nod honestly. He did know a lot more about art than the average money guy, a huge asset. He had a joke now, a practiced line, about how he could have told his dad either that he was gay or that he was majoring in art, and he’d picked gay because it seemed like less trouble. In reality, during the whole ride home for sophomore winter break, Yale had silently rehearsed the news that he was switching from finance to art history—and then that night, his boyfriend had called and mistaken Yale’s father’s voice for Yale’s (“I miss you, baby,” he’s said, and Yale’s father had said, “How’s that? and Marc, as was his wont, had elaborated), and so the rest of vacation had been devoted to that bombshell, to their mutual avoidance, their silent eating of leftover spaghetti. Yale had planned to tell his father about the professor he could do an independent study with next fall—about how he wasn’t in love the same way with finance, about how with this degree, he could teach or write books or restore paintings or even work at an auction house. He’d planned to explain that it was Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome that had sent vibrations down his arms, made the rest of the world fall away—Caravaggio’s light, oddly, and not his famous shadows. But Marc’s call ruined it; Yale would have been too humiliated to say that all now. Not just gay, but a gay art major. He went back to school in January and lied to his adviser, told her he’d had a change of heart. But between finance classes, he audited course after course, sitting in the backs of lecture halls illuminated only by slides of Manet or Goya or Joaquin Sorolla.

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