Sunday, December 3, 2023

the last book I ever read (The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War, excerpt seven)

from The Beauty of Living: e. e. cummings in the Great War by J. Alison Rosenblitt:

Cummings had no idea even that he was under arrest. Some official-looking men arrived at the ambulance quarters. Cummings was told to collect his things and come. He witnessed them bundling Brown into one car; he himself was bundled into another. On the drive, his driver’s hat flew off in a gust of wind. The driver stopped the car and Cummings moved to collect the hat; the guard pulled his revolver. Only then did Cummings grasp the way things stood.

He was taken back to Noyon, into a civic edifice that looked to him like a feudal dungeon. He was full of adrenaline and exhaustion, demoralized by months of cleaning mud at the front, and alienated from the Americans in his ambulance unit. He was still desperate for his permission to get to Paris, but also convinced that he had been taken for a chump by his girl. He was oddly thrilled to find himself under arrest, just to shake the tedium and to feel as though something at least might happen. It was a day for impulsiveness, and it would change his life forever.

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