Self finished The Anthologist two nights ago and began In Praise of Messy Lives, by essayist Katie Roiphe.
Self had not expected to enjoy her writing as much as she does.
Roiphe comes at everything with a feminist perspective, and sees the transaction that is underneath every smile, every service offered up to the white tourists who the locals, according to Katie, feel utmost contempt for. Of course, they all chatter away in their own language, so the contempt isn’t quite as blatant. But Roiphe, being a writer whose sensitivities are super-honed by years of making sharp, acerbic observations about no less a city than New York, picks up on it anyway.
Roiphe has many, many things to say about the male tourists, who enact a rite of courtship, overlaying their interactions with the local females with exaggerated, even mocking courtesy.
Roiphe also has plenty of things to say about the weather, but let’s not bother with that at the moment (Let’s bother with trying to go to sleep! Let’s force ourselves not to stay up late, reading!) She goes to Bangkok and then to Siem Reap and finally to Phnom Penh. She writes of her Cambodian guide :
Our driver’s silver Timex looks bulky on his fragile wrist as he steers around the larger rocks and holes. It impossible to tell how old he is — he could be twenty or forty-five. People here tend to look very, very young until all of a sudden they look very, very old.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.