Letter to the Silent Duchess from a Relative

  • Your second daughter Giuseppa allowed herself to be found in her husband’s bed with her cousin Olivo. The two men challenged each other to a duel. They fought, but neither of them was killed: two cowards who abandoned their weapons at the first drop of blood. Now the beautiful Giuseppa is expecting a child and no one knows whether it is her husband’s or her cousin’s. But it will be accepted by her husband as his, because otherwise he would have to kill her and he certainly has no wish to do that.

Appointment in Samarra Redux

Both of self’s parents were readers. The living room was lined with bookshelves, and there were always books on her parents’ nighstands.

Dearest Mum liked Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima.

Dear Departed Dad liked John O’Hara and John Updike.

One of Dear Departed Dad’s John O’Hara’s books was Appointment in Samarra. Self remembers loving it. The appointment in O’Hara’s novel is the same as the one in the excerpt below from The Silent Duchess, with O’Hara using Samarra as the stand-in for Samarkand. In both versions, the irony is delicious.

This morning, 6:30 a.m., self is racing to the end of The Silent Duchess.

She reads, on p. 226:

  • One does not truly escape by always escaping. Like that character in The Thousand and One Nights, who lived in Samarkand. She cannot remember whether it was Nur el Din or Mustafa. He was told, “Soon you will die in Samarkand,” so he galloped full speed to another city. But right in that unknown city, while he was walking peacefully along, he was assassinated, and as he died he saw that the square in which he attacked was called Samarkand.

Curfew takes effect in her area tonight: everyone must stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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