Dog's Dinner

"You're not loved because you're lovable, you're lovable 'cause you're loved."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Deluded by Jazz

Still time for one more fragment-- this from Those Who Walk Away, by the amazing Patricia Highsmith:

He listened-- with more pleasure than he usually listened to jazz, which in Mallorca had nearly driven him mad-- to the free and easy expertise coming from the boy's transistor, music that the plump barber cutting his hair now, and the other two barbers and the men in the chairs, seemed not to hear at all, and Ray felt that anything in the world that he wished might be possible. It was, theoretically, possible and true. Yet he also realized that he lacked the dash to make any of it come true, and that the thought had come to him because of the jazz and because of his fever.

25 Comments:

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Small Man said...

Is that the book you gave me once? Where the hero's father becomes a fanatical evangelistic Christian? That's a nice paragraph but overall I found it unpleasant to read. There was no sympathy at all for the father. What a contrast with Ozu! Although all of his fathers, as far as I can tell, are profoundly sympathetic. But even if you are going to set forth a totally unsympathetic character, isn't there some obligation to explain or analyze him more than Highsmith does in that case? In Tremor of Forgery it's the opposite--no evil is too great to exceed the hero's own range of action. And that book even borrows a lot of its strength from the notion of common Judeochristian norms, which can be evaded or challenged only because they are so well-known and self-evident, even to a immoralist. Ray thinking that anything is possible makes sense only because he has experienced limits and knows what it would be to transcend them.

 
At 2:59 AM, Blogger The Blunderer said...

Actually that book was People Who Knock on the Door, which I myself haven't yet read. I'd have to read it before I could agree or disagree with the sympathy factor. In Those Who Walk Away and in The Two Faces of January, there is one character who's less sympathetic than the others but he gets moments of sympathy. These are two of her more polyphonic works. And in fact there is a kind of elegant symmetry in my discovery of them-- I read The Two Faces (set in Greece) a year before visiting Greece and Those Who Walk (set in Venice) a month after visiting Venice. The tune is later identified, by the way, as "Sweet Lorraine."

 
At 3:13 AM, Blogger The Blunderer said...

Ah, and by the way, which book borrows from the notion of common Judeochristian norms? Presumably many books, of course, but did you mean People Who Knock or Tremor?

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Small Man said...

Gloop! Sorry about that. Oh, I meant that Tremor does it implicitly but in People Who Knock on the Door it's a simplistic caricature--the Christian is murdered and then everybody's happy.

Thwonk!

 
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