Tuesday, December 28, 2021

the last book I ever read (Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, excerpt two)

from Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature:

So, back to Holy Matrimony. The joke about that was that Emma and I were not married but had been living in increasingly fractious sin for the last donkey’s years. I mean, it wasn’t all fractious, but the peevish quota could sometimes be significant, and I am not quite sure how it got to be like that. As for Holy Matrimony, we did not just drift into this state of detachment from it, but chose to take it on glare for glare, brazenly outstare middle-class respectability, by which she meant her parents, I’m afraid. Her blows against class were inbred in this way, intimate resentments against family Christmas celebrations, for example, or a loathing for the faintest glimmer of interest in opera, which her parents adored, or sneering contempt for matrimony. She loved music, and had played the piano with real seriousness throughout her years at university, and even now was still at her most intense when listening to a variant performance of a favorite piece. But the briefest snatch of opera made her reach for the power button, making disgusted faces and uttering strong words against the fascist Establishment as she did so. It was something like that with matrimony. I took my lead, as I did in so many things, from Emma. She wanted to be the anti-bourgeoisie rebel and that was fine with me. Everything about her was fine with me.

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