Sunday, December 23, 2007
This novel made me think of other authors from the UK (Never again will I make the mistake of saying 'English'): John Banville and Ann Enright (both of them Irish). Naturally this means their main topics in their latest novels: death. Curiously enough both novels got the Booker, this year and last year. This one, Gerard Woodward's magnificent novel, "I'll Go to Bed at Noon" is part of a trilogy but stands totally by itself. This is a terrific novel that tackles the problem of alcoholism in an entire family. There's death and despair in this novel, and a lot of literary references, but it is easy to read because of Woodward's direct, even matter-of-factly prose, full of humour within the tragedy. I love this part, almost at the end of the novel when Colette, the matriarch dies (cirrhosis of the liver). This is Aldous's perspective, Colette's surviving husband:
"Afterwards Aldous sat in a small park of ornamental willows and wept. He realized he now had more time than he knew what to do with. More time than he could ever want. He was healthy. He was sixty-seven. He had no job, no wife, no children, no mortgage, no pets, and perhaps a good ten years of active life left, perhaps fifteen, perhaps twenty. Those years spread before him with a vastness such as the early palaeonthologists must have recognized when they first realized that the Earth was much older than the Bible had told them. Not a few thousand years old, but five billion years. What had the world been doing all that time, what species had risen and fallen, what ages had passed? And in the future, the pathway of time streched further than the human race could ever walk. More time than humanity could ever fill. No matter how long the human race lasted, it would only ever be a flicker in the life of the universe, a twich of an eyelid.
When he got home he found a letter for him on the mat. It was his new bus pass. A free bus pass. The GLC had recently announced free travel on London Transport for all old age pensioners" (430).
Saturday, December 8, 2007
«Desde el mes de enero de 1946, en Ascona, en la Suiza italiana, había abandonado el libro que intentaba escribir sobre mi experiencia en Buchenwald. Me había visto obligado a tomar aquella decisión literalmente para sobrevivir. Ya sé que Primo Levi sólo volvió a la vida por medio y a través de Se questo è un uomo. Mi aventura había sido diferente. La escritura me encerraba en la clausura de la muerte, me asfixiaba en ella, implacablemente. Había que escoger entre la escritura y la vida, y escogí esta última. Escogí una larga cura de afasia, de amnesia deliberada para volver a vivir, o para sobrevivir... Así como la escritura liberaba a Primo Levi del pasado, apaciguaba su memoria, a mí me hundía otra vez en la muerte, me sumergía en ella». Jorge Semprún
This was one of the classic gothic debts. Finally got this impressive penguin deluxe edition of Shirley Jackson, "We have always lived in the castle", according to Jonatham Lethem, in his great introduction to this edition, Jackson's finest work. This edition features a precious drawing by swiss artist Thomas Ott.
The story is completely told by 18th year old Merricat:
"I wish you were all dead, I thought, and longed to say it out loud. Constance said, 'Never let them see that you care', and 'If you pay any attention they'll only get worse', and probably it was true, but I wished they were dead. I would have liked to come into the grocery some morning and see them all, even the Elbers and the children, lying there crying with the pain and dying. I would then help myself to groceries, I thought, stepping over their bodies, taking whatever I fancied from the shelves, and go home, with perhaps a kick for Mrs. Donell while she lay there. I was never sorry when I had thoughts like this; I only wished they would come true. 'It's wrong to hate them', Constance said, 'it only weakens you', but I hated them anyway, and wondered why it had been worth while creating them in the first place".
Like a child, the earth's going to sleep, or so the story goes.
But I'm not tired, it says, You may not be tired but I'm tired...
You can see it in her face, everyone can. So the snow has to fall, sleep has to come. Because the mother's sick to death of her life and needs silence.