Tuesday, January 21, 2020

the last book I ever read (J. D. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, excerpt two)

from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J. D. Salinger:

The first four or five blocks north on Madison, conversation in in the car was chiefly limited to remarks like “Am I giving you enough room?” and “I’ve never been so hot in my entire life.” The one who had never been so hot in her entire life was, as I’d learned from a certain amount of eavesdropping at the curb, the bride’s Matron of Honor. She was a hefty girl of about twenty-four or –five, in a pink satin dress, with a circlet of artificial forget-me-nots in her hair. There was a distinctly athletic ethos about her, as if, a year or two earlier, she might have majored in physical education in college. In her lap she was holding a bouquet of gardenias rather as thought it were a deflated volleyball. She was seated in the back of the car, hip-pressed between her husband and a tiny elderly man in a top hat and cutaway, who was holding an unlighted clear-Havana cigar. Mrs. Silsburn and I—our respective inside knees unribaldly touching—occupied the jump seats. Twice, without any excuse whatever, out of sheer approval, I glanced around at the tiny elderly man. When I’d originally loaded the card and held the door open for him, I’d had a passing impulse to pick him up bodily and insert him gently through the open window. He was tininess itself, surely being not more than four nine or ten and without being either a midget or a dwarf. In the car, he sat staring very severely straight ahead of him. On my second look around at him, I noticed that he had what very much appeared to be an old gravy stain on the lapel of his cutaway. I also noticed that his silk hat cleared the roof of the car by a good four or five inches…. But for the most part, those first few minutes in the car, I was still mainly concerned with my own state of health. Besides having pleurisy and a bruised head, I had a hypochondriac’s notion that I was getting a strep throat. I sat surreptiously curling back my tongue and exploring the suspected ailing part. I was staring, as I remember, directly in front of me, at the back of the driver’s neck, which was a relief map of boil scars, when suddenly my jump-seat mate addressed me: “I didn’t get a chance to ask you inside. How’s that darling mother of yours? Aren’t you Dickie Briganza?”

No comments:

Post a Comment