Beginning A PASSAGE TO INDIA

Self finished The Glass Room and found it somewhat of a disappointment.  All that happened to the characters was:  They grew old.  Some aged better than others.  World War II happened but it did nothing to stop the inexorable process of growing old.  Different people came to occupy the house that held The Glass Room.  These people passed on, as all people do pass on.

So, what was the point?  Of course things made of onyx and glass last longer than people!  DUH!

Early this morning, self began the next book on her reading list, A Passage to India, by E. M. Forster.  She has read a lot of Forster, most during her single days.  She doesn’t know why, but her taste for Forster disappeared about the same time she got married.

Before, her favorite Forster novel was A Room With a View.  And of course the movie was so ravishing!

In addition, it was about Italy!  A very romantic Italy.  An Italy of genteel Englishwomen and fantastic antiquities.  One hardly needed to converse with real Italians.  One need only wander about the fallen columns in a white lace dress, holding up a dainty parasol.

Now, reading Forster after a hiatus of decades, she is amazed to discover how very muscular and energetic his language is.  She’s been wanting to quote excerpts since page 1, but here’s something from the beginning of Chapter 2:

Abandoning his bicycle, which fell before a servant could catch it, the young man sprang up onto the verandah.  He was all animation.  “Hamidullah, Hamidullah!  Am I late?” he cried.

“Do not apologize,” said his host.  “You are always late.”

“Kindly answer my question.  Am I late?  Has Mahmoud Ali eaten all the food?  If so I go elsewhere.  Mr. Mahmoud Ali, how are you?”

“Thank you, Dr. Aziz.  I am dying.”

“Dying before your dinner?  Oh, poor Mahmoud Ali!”

“Hamidullah here is actually dead.  He passed away just as you rode up on your bike.”

“Yes, that is so,” said the other.  “Imagine us both addressing you from another and a happier world.”

“Does there happen to be such a thing as a hookah in that happier world of yours?”

“Aziz, don’t chatter.  We are having a very sad talk.”

The hookah had been packed too tight, as was usual in his friend’s house, and bubbled sulkily.  He coaxed it.  Yielding at last, the tobacco jetted up into his lungs and nostrils, driving out the smoke of burning cow dung that had filled them as he rode through the bazaar.  It was delicious.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Currently Reading: THE GLASS ROOM, by Simon Mawer

Honestly, this is the first book self has ever read which traces decades in the life of a house.  An actual house.  A house that exists somewhere in Czechoslovakia.

Self wonders if she’ll ever get to visit Czechoslovakia.  For a while, it seemed like every American nascent novelist went to Prague to write a book.

But, anyhoo, self has encountered the SENTENCE OF THE SUMMER.  And, considering that self read some really wonderful books, books like Wolf Hall and Sister Carrie, this is no ordinary praise (Come to think of it, self is reminded that last night, or perhaps in the wee hours of this morning, self dreamt she was living in castle.  A castle from which she would imminently have to flee.  For it was being besieged by some invading force.  And self had to move down narrow circular stone staircases, and decide which items were the most essential ones, all in a great hurry)

Self is on p. 127 of The Glass Room.  She can’t say she really loves this novel, and so far she doesn’t like any of the characters.  There’s a “liberated” woman named Hana, and in this section she’s telling a friend about how she helped another woman escape from an unhappy marriage, and how the two, having boarded a train and made good their escape, fell into each other’s arms and freely abandoned themselves to their illicit love.

While listening to Hana tell her story, the friend, Liesel, who herself is married and has two children, who lives a very comfortable domestic life, observes with dispassion:

There was something shrill about her, as though the story of excitement and plotting was thinly painted over a deep fracture.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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