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Friday, 10 June 2016

****: 1st impression

On Matthew Selwyn's ****, or, The Anatomy of Melancholy


“The chemist was closed, so I went to the movies instead; fat lot of good that did me.” 
Is that a good start? I’m not sure. 
Let’s go on. To open a book with the thought “Try not to be so critical” is, I think, rather disrespectful to the author. 
“This wind tonight; cutting across my face, bringing reluctant tears to my eyes.” 
I don’t like that semicolon very much. 
Nor the one in this sentence: “The street lamps light the way; 2 more streets and I’m there.” 
“My soles kiss the pavement—a gentle smack as plastic meets concrete and I propel myself forward, avoiding jutting paving slabs, broken glass; the debris of life as we know it. 
[…]
I breathe heavy, rattling breaths, and drive forward.” 
Am I alone in thinking that it clinks?
Perhaps it’s not a good idea to jump straight to the 21st century after several years of 19th century literature (with a few 20th century exceptions). But look at this passage: 
“A blonde with high cheek bones and Nordic looks smiles up at me.
[…]
Running her hand faintly across my face and down my shoulder, Lexi glides straight past me and pulls the pocket Barbie away. Wrapping her slim arms around the blonde, Lexi presses herself close—her breasts squashing against the bony shoulder blades of her partner. The 2 writhe together, Lexi driving blondie’s hips and running 1 of her hands through the mass of bleached hair in front of her. Blondie’s eyes close as she rocks her head back into her partner, but Lexi looks only at me. 
I breathe heavy, the air thick with sweat and sex. Lexi pulls away from Barbie and, giving her a small pat on the bum, pushes her back into the heaving crowd. I look on as the whip of blonde hair disappears into the mass that surrounds us, and then there is only Lex.
Her rich breath, still thick with tobacco, engulfs me as she presses me close. Grabbing her wrist, I pull her to the back of the club, to our only chance of privacy. 
Slamming the door to the disabled toilet behind us, I throw my tiny nymph against the wall, and press up against her—the weight of my body reminding her of the eternal truth of our relationship, of every relationship. Lifting her legs so they’re wrapped around me, I press against her, trapping her in the embrace. Pushing my hot lips away, she pauses—places her forefinger against my mouth and reaches into her the left cup of her over-full bra. 
She pulls out a tiny packet of blow; the soft whiteness of the powder highlighting the grime of the surfaces around us. I step back and release Lex, let her cut the stuff. 
Rolling a loose bill, she stoops and inhales a line. Then another. 
Don’t worry, I get my share. 
The fresh, raw feeling overwhelms. The blood flows, and we fuck, right there among the grime.” 
No, it’s not because I’m used to 19th century style. This is simply not what I see as good prose. 
However, I’ve got an idea: I’ll choose another approach. **** doesn’t seem to have a plot. It’s a mind, a consciousness, no, a voice, a monologue, a one-man show—the narrator’s talking, talking, talking; he doesn’t care if anybody listens; his mind wanders and his interest shifts from 1 thing to another. Slow reading is not the way. I’ll let him talk—I’ll read quickly, without lingering, without pausing after a sentence or a paragraph to think, without rereading often; I’ll let go, and go with the flow. 

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. That's a comment!
      Nah, tell me what you think.

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  2. I agree with you-- I don't think this is very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (cont.) it kind of reminds me of this: https://twitter.com/guyinyourmfa?lang=en

      Delete
    2. Oh I have always enjoyed that twitter site.
      It's a girl though? I always thought it's a guy.

      Delete