Today I had promised him bacon and eggs, a mixture that had intrigued both Bessie and Duncan when I told them of it. The thinly sliced ham was ready to go on a skillet and I hung it over the flames to cook. There was a pot of porridge ready to eat, so I dished up a small helping for Wee Thomas while he waited, enriching the bowl with raisins and hazelnuts and a fresh plum which he ate with gratifying gusto.— The Mermaid and the Bear, p. 49
Part I is done. Part II begins at 7:30 a.m, October 25, 1944. There’s quote from Samuel Eliot Morison: “In no engagement in its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, gut, and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.” (Self wishes she could show dear blog readers a map of Samar but, uh. She doesn’t want to stop reading. Maybe later. On the map of the Philippines that hangs in son’s room, Samar is one of the bigger islands in the middle of the archipelago. She wishes she could do a red arrow pointing, but she doesn’t know how)
We’re now with crew of the Johnston, just lining up for breakfast.
“Ellsworth Welch, the Johnston’s junior officer of the deck, was leaning over the rail on the port side of the bridge taking in the warm aromas of breakfast when he first saw the columns of water towering over the decks of an escort carrier.”
Down in the Johnston’s combat information center, Lt. Fred Green has picked up a transmission. He tells Lt. John C. W. Dix, who’s just walked in with a cup of coffee, “Listen, the pilot’s coming in again.” A burst of static washed through the speakers, bringing a distant voice (the voice of Ensign Bill Brooks): I’m drawing fire.
Oh, my bacon. Speechless.
It starts off the collection, and it’s pretty long (for a Hemingway short story). All about a safari in Africa. Interesting, told from the safari guide’s point of view, who OF COURSE finds the wife attractive. The husband, Macomber (only in his mid-30s, but intimidated by the safari guide), is portrayed as a wimp. Despite these clichés of manhood and/or lack thereof, self finds herself empathizing much with Macomber. His reluctance to shoot the lion, for instance.
In this short story, the meal in question is breakfast.
Robert Wilson, the guide, has kippers and coffee.
“Finish your breakfast and we’ll be starting.”
Also, the lion’s point of view is part of this story. Pretty cool, that part. And you will feel, in your bones, how disgusting it is to hunt lions. Feeling and knowing are two different things.
Wife rewards Big Lion-Hunter with a kiss on the mouth, right in front of her husband. Guess Hemingway thinks that’s what all real men deserve, when they’ve finished off a lion. They deserve to be rewarded with a kiss from a beautiful woman. Because — hey! Hunter-killers are rad! Self can’t think of any story she’s ever read that infuriated her so much.
Story becomes very noir-ish towards the end, characters speak very “posh,” in a version of British stiff-upper-lip.
Her sympathies to Macomber.
Not reading in the order in which they appear in the book. Rather, starting with the stories Hemingway wrote while he was marching with The Fifth Column.
Story # 1: The Killers, p. 279
This story is about dinner.
“Everything we want’s the dinner, eh?”
“I can give you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver — “
“I’ll take ham and eggs,” the man called.
“Give me bacon and eggs,” said the other man.
Which so does not sound like dinner to self, but anyhoo.
When, a year or so ago, The New Yorker published a review of The Trespasser, by Tana French, self knew she had to read it.
Because of many, many distractions in the almost two years since, self is only getting around to reading The Trespasser now. In Paris.
Not that self thinks this is necessarily a bad choice of reading matter for Paris. It’s really cold outside, and the skies are grey. And the bathroom is enormous. The bathtub could sink a body. An entire body. The building opposite has a harp store, a beauty salon, and a wee grocery (open until 2 a.m.). To the right there is a five-star restaurant. To the left is a four-star restaurant. On one corner is a brasserie (packed to the gills with young Asian customers; self makes a note never to eat there. The only authentic brasserie, in self’s humble opinion, is one where most of the patrons look like they are locals), a block away is a pharmacy.
The last book she read before The Trespasser was also by Tana French: Broken Harbor.
Ms. French’s mysteries feature a constantly changing main narrator, but all are set in Dublin. Broken Harbor’s main protagonist was Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. The Trespasser’s main protagonist is a woman whose name self can’t even remember, even though she’s on p. 154.
So far, one murder: a 26-year-old woman who “lived a boring life.” Nevertheless, she had “a true-crime library” and “read a lot of fan fiction. The sappy kind, not the sexy kind; my guy was sort of disappointed by that.” She didn’t even do “dating sites,” my God what is wrong with this murder victim? With a life so boring, self doesn’t know why she’s still reading. But reading she is. It’s p. 154, and all we’ve uncovered is a boring life.
Self misses the puck-ish irony of Muriel Spark, the twisted point-of-view of a Ruth Rendell.
Ms. French’s novels are dense with procedural detail. But, please. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.
Yesterday (Christmas Day, lest one forget), self did absolutely nothing except watch CNN all day. The ticker tape at the bottom told of various Philippine disasters (It’s almost as if CNN knows the person watching is Filipino): flooding, a bus crash in northern Luzon, a fire in a call center that killed 38 people. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago (of course), posing for happy family pics with Melania, and trying to recover from the stress of holding public office (while being paid peanuts) by playing yet another round of golf.
On a more positive note, self was able to update one of her Gendrya. And today, she learned her story earned her six kudos. Not bad for one day.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Self was planning to walk along the Champs Elysée. She’s had a big breakfast and is now back in her room, writing her novel-in-progress.
Last night, she walked a few blocks to the Arc de Triomphe and got off this moody night-time shot:
This morning, she went down for breakfast, and eavesdropped on the other guests: they talked of reading books, falling asleep at midnight, taking a leisurely stroll.
She will spend Christmas Day writing.
(Oops, not quite. She remembers the artists in Tyrone Guthrie telling her that things do not all close down on Christmas. She looked up the Louvre. It is open today. The hotel has been asking her to let them clean her room because she’s been inside most of the last two days. So that’s what she’ll do: she’ll take the metro to the Louvre)