Wednesday, February 13, 2019

the last book I ever read (Crudo: A Novel by Olivia Laing, excerpt ten)

from Crudo: A Novel by Olivia Laing:

They had gone to the country. It was Sunday morning, she was reading the paper on paper, with coffee, by a fire. There was a deer park outside, maybe 100 little deer with spots on their sides, exactly like Bambi except tick-infested and real, engaging in play antler-wrestling and trotting races and kneeling down to chew and all kinds of other extremely interesting and distinctive deer behaviour. Oaks too, an impeccable landscape that in itself at once depended on and concealed all kinds of colonial atrocities, seemingly natural but totally false, anyway it was beautiful and she was in it and newly awake and disinclined to have to grapple with the potential end of all life. 2017 was turning into a bumper year, a doozy, everything arse about tit.

In the hotel sitting room the previous night, Kathy had lain on a sofa reading Christopher and His Kind with a carafe of red wine. It was one of her favourite books, she loved little Christopher zipping back and forward between the present day I and the Chris of I am a Camera and 1920s Berlin, reprimanding his younger self and thus subtly burnishing his witty and insightful present-day being. But she kept being distracted by a conversation in the adjoining room. She suggested by mime that her husband close the door, but it wasn’t closable and so instead they sat there, the unwilling audience to an invisible and disheartening play. There were two people, a man and a woman. They didn’t know each, they appeared to have been drawn into conversation over dinner. The woman was doing most of the talking. She was Scottish, he was Irish, she said, they were soulmates already. He coughed a little laugh, possibly because she had the most piercing English accent Kathy had ever heard. It was impossible not to listen, her voice went echoing through the rooms, you could probably hear it from space, certainly the deer park. She was talking about Japan, how she went to a restaurant in Hiroshima, a very unfrequented restaurant down an alley, no tourists ever went there, the whole menu was in Japanese and when they left all the staff came out of the kitchen to wave them off, it was so sweet. I thought you were her agent, the man said. Her body language seemed so dead, I thought it must be a business relationship. No, said the woman, evidently stung, no, that’s mothers and daughters for you, that’s how they are. I don’t know if you have family (ARE YOU GAY ARE YOU GAY) I don’t know if you have family, children, parents, cousins, but they don’t always like you very much, they think you’re a fool, and you just have to take it on the chin. Her daughter was called Nadia, her daughter was not happy, not to invade her privacy but her daughter wasn’t happy at all, she had a great job in marketing, a terrific job, it was more that she wasn’t happy with her life.

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