radfrac_archive: (dichotomy)

I've been reading Hemingway. Here's a thing.

* * * * * *

I took the bones and scraps and put them in the bag and took the bag out to the trash. On the way back an armless hand leapt out of the air and grabbed my sleeve. I jerked back and dragged Henry from the deep evening shadow behind the cans.

“Jesus Christ, Hank, you scared me.” I shook my arm; his fingers clenched, then let go, and he flexed them as though they were sore. His knuckles were cut.

“Sorry, Tom, sorry,” he looked around quickly. He was wearing a woman's close-fitting cloche hat, blue. His coat was a woman's coat as well, but it was cheap and plain and old, so it was less noticeable. The hat was at once rather modest and extraordinary. What made it extraordinary? A man in a woman's hat is joking, or destitute, or drunk – but not in himself (or in his hat) extraordinary. I think it was because it looked a bit like an aviator's soft helmet from the war. He had set it too far back on his head, so that his own balding forehead stuck out. It was like a baby's bonnet on him--so he looked like an infant lady aviator.

“Tom,” he said, “Tom, for God's sake, don't tell on me.”

“All right, Hank. Come inside for a minute.”

“Don't tell Helen on me, Tom.”

“Come in and have a drink.”

His coat was too short in the sleeves. Four inches of bony arm stuck out. Where the hell had he got it? It wasn't any coat of Helen's. Some woman—not too well off, yet too proud to go on wearing it—had given her old coat to a church or a neighbor, or thrown it away, and now Jake was wearing it and he'd buttoned it up wrong. Underneath his trousers were rolled up and his bare feet and legs filthy with mud. Reeking river clay.

You saw how skinny he was in that coat, how long it must have been since he had a decent meal, how his joints bulged like knots in a tree. He used to be a big man, Henry, before the war.

* * * * * *

I'm doing something very complicated on the Internet in a fresh attempt to read ebooks from my library.


radfrac_archive: (dichotomy)
Post-Rebecca, I've been reading Conrad's The Shadow-Line, so this bit of scribbling is what comes of that. I realized as I was writing that this was influenced by a story I read something like 20 years ago in a Philosophy in Literature course. I couldn't remember the name or author, and Googling proved unhelpful, but then an ex-student found the right combination of keywords: it is Ted Hughes' Snow. I haven't re-read it, but I think I will after I've posted this.

I’ve been trying to determine if I am on a ship or on an island. )



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