De Britse schrijver Louis de Bernières werd geboren in Londen op 8 december 1954. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.
Uit: A Partisan's Daughter
“I am not the sort of man who goes to prostitutes.
Well, I suppose that every man would say that. People would disbelieve it just because you felt you had to say it. It’s a self-defeating statement. If I had any sense I’d delete it and start again, but I’m thinking, “My wife’s dead, my daughter’s in New Zealand, I’m in bad health, and I’m past caring, and who’s paying any attention? And in any case, it’s true.”
I did know someone who admitted it, though. He was a Dutchman who’d done it with a prostitute during his national service. He was in Amsterdam and he was suffering from blue balls at a time when he was on leave and had a little money in his pocket. He said she was a real stunner, and the sex was better than he had expected. However, the woman kept a bin by her bedside, the kind that is like a miniature dustbin, with a lid. You can still get them in novelty shops. Anyway, after he’d finished he eased off the condom, and she reached out and lifted the lid off for him out of good manners. It was packed to the brim with used condoms, like a great cake of pink and brown rubber. He was so horrified by that bin of limp milky condoms that he never went to a prostitute again. Mind you, I haven’t seen him for twenty years, so he may well have succumbed by now. He liked to tell that story because he was an artist, and probably felt he had a Bohemian duty to be a little bit outrageous. I expect he was hoping I’d be shocked, because I am only a suburbanite.
I tried to go with a prostitute just once in my life, and it didn’t work out as I had expected. It wasn’t a case of blue balls so much as a case of loneliness. It was an impulse, I suppose. My wife was alive back then, but the trouble is that sooner or later, at best, your wife turns into your sister. At worst she becomes your enemy, and sets herself up as the principal obstacle to your happiness. Mine had obtained everything she wanted, so she couldn’t see any reason to bother with me any more. All the delights with which she had drawn me in were progressively withdrawn, until there was nothing left for me but responsibilities and a life sentence. I don’t think that most women understand the nature of a man’s sexual drive. They don’t realise that for a man it isn’t just something quite nice that’s occasionally optional, like flower arranging. I tried talking to my wife about it several times, but she always reacted with impatience or blank incomprehension, as if I was an importunate alien freshly arrived from a parallel universe. I never could decide whether she was being heartless or stupid, or just plain cynical. It didn’t make any difference. You could just see her thinking to herself, “This isn’t my problem.” She was one of those insipid Englishwomen with skimmed milk in her veins, and she was perfectly content to be like that. When we married I had no idea that she would turn out to have all the passion and fire of a codfish, because she took the trouble to put on a good show until she thought it was safe not to have to bother any more.”
Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)
De Amerikaanse schrijver Bill Bryson werd geboren in Des Moines (Iowa) op 8 december 1951. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.
Uit: In A Sunburned Country
“Flying into Australia, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is. I am forever doing this with the Australian prime minister--committing the name to memory, forgetting it (generally more or less instantly), then feeling terribly guilty. My thinking is that there ought to be one person outside Australia who knows.
But then Australia is such a difficult country to keep track of. On my first visit, some years ago, I passed the time on the long flight reading a history of Australian politics in the twentieth century, wherein I encountered the startling fact that in 1967 the prime minister, Harold Holt, was strolling along a beach in Victoria when he plunged into the surf and vanished. No trace of the poor man was ever seen again. This seemed doubly astounding to me--first that Australia could just lose a prime minister (I mean, come on) and second that news of this had never reached me.
The fact is, of course, we pay shamefully scant attention to our dear cousins Down Under--not entirely without reason, of course. Australia is after all mostly empty and a long way away. Its population, just over 18 million, is small by world standards--China grows by a larger amount each year--and its place in the world economy is consequently peripheral; as an economic entity, it ranks about level with Illinois. Its sports are of little interest to us and the last television series it made that we watched with avidity was Skippy. From time to time it sends us useful things--opals, merino wool, Errol Flynn, the boomerang--but nothing we can't actually do without. Above all, Australia doesn't misbehave. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn't have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner.“
Bill Bryson (Des Moines, 8 december 1951)
De Amerikaanse schrijfster Mary Catherine Gordon werd geboren op 8 december 1949 in Far Rockaway, New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.
Uit: Reading Jesus
“Is it possible that the story of the Prodigal Son is the first story I remember? Or that I remember it alongside Snow White, Goldilocks, the Three Little Pigs? Fixing it in my mind (they weren't wrong, the iconoclasts; they knew the power of artifacts) was one of my most treasured possessions, what we would now call a sticker book. At that time what are now called stickers were referred to as "seals," the model being Easter Seals, which you bought in order to pledge your determination to stamp out polio. They were not common, these books of seals, and certainly a book of Bible stories was not. I can recall the taste of the glue on my tongue: sharp, cutting, even painful, and the drastic importance to me of the correct placement of the sticky image onto the blank square that was meant to frame it.
The seal of the Prodigal Son presented him bare-chested among the pigs. But in my imagination, I created other costumes for him: the robe, which I saw very clearly. It was striped, magenta, orange, red. And the ring, a large signet ring that I knew went on his index finger, although I had never seen anyone in life wear any jewelry on that digit. I saw his legs, smooth, tanned (was I confusing him with the Old Testament Jacob, as I confused his robe with Joseph's many-colored coat?). But there were other images that were more vivid to me than these, images that I felt kinesthetically rather than saw. The first were the husks provided for the pigs; he longed for the husks, envied the pigs: even husks had not been provided for him. I imagined used-up corncobs, tossed on the ground after a summer picnic. Dried out; devoid of succulence. I understood that he would have to wait even for these until the pigs had had their fill; without articulating it, I knew that he was less valuable to his employer than the pigs were. This frightened me: that kind of hunger.
I was the child of an ardent father, so I could imagine the heat of a father's embrace that was led up to by a yearning run: the unseemly speed of the father who could not wait to see his child. Who runs for him, unable to bear the slowness of the normal progression, the son's ordinary pace. I could feel the warmth of the father's ardent arms; I knew the boy's safety, his sense of relief. Forgiveness.“
Mary Gordon (Far Rockaway, 8 december 1949)
De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Delmore Schwartz werd geboren op 8 december 1913 in New York. Zie ook mijn blog van 8 december 2008.
All Night, All Night
"I have been one acquainted with the night" - Robert Frost
Rode in the train all night, in the sick light. A bird
Flew parallel with a singular will. In daydream's moods and
The other passengers slumped, dozed, slept, read,
Waiting, and waiting for place to be displaced
On the exact track of safety or the rack of accident.
Looked out at the night, unable to distinguish
Lights in the towns of passage from the yellow lights
Numb on the ceiling. And the bird flew parallel and still
As the train shot forth the straight line of its whistle,
Forward on the taut tracks, piercing empty, familiar --
The bored center of this vision and condition looked and
Down through the slick pages of the magazine (seeking
The seen and the unseen) and his gaze fell down the well
Of the great darkness under the slick glitter,
And he was only one among eight million riders and
And all the while under his empty smile the shaking drum
Of the long determined passage passed through him
By his body mimicked and echoed. And then the train
Like a suddenly storming rain, began to rush and thresh--
The silent or passive night, pressing and impressing
The patients' foreheads with a tightening-like image
Of the rushing engine proceeded by a shaft of light
Piercing the dark, changing and transforming the silence
Into a violence of foam, sound, smoke and succession.
A bored child went to get a cup of water,
And crushed the cup because the water too was
Boring and merely boredom's struggle.
The child, returning, looked over the shoulder
Of a man reading until he annoyed the shoulder.
A fat woman yawned and felt the liquid drops
Drip down the fleece of many dinners.
And the bird flew parallel and parallel flew
The black pencil lines of telephone posts, crucified,
At regular intervals, post after post
Of thrice crossed, blue-belled, anonymous trees.
And then the bird cried as if to all of us:
0 your life, your lonely life
What have you ever done with it,
And done with the great gift of consciousness?
What will you ever do with your life before death's
Provides the answer ultimate and appropriate?
As I for my part felt in my heart as one who falls,
Falls in a parachute, falls endlessly, and feel the vast
Draft of the abyss sucking him down and down,
An endlessly helplessly falling and appalled clown:
This is the way that night passes by, this
Is the overnight endless trip to the famous unfathomable
Delmore Schwartz (8 december 1913 – 11 juli 1966)
08-12-2009 om 20:05
geschreven door Romenu