Something About the Deep South

There is something about America’s Deep South that arouses melancholy in Paul Theroux, for which self can only say:

THANK GOD

Usually he is so caustic and cranky (which is fun too, don’t mistake self’s meaning), but here, for instance:

  • It was always assumed that I was merely drifting, and I suppose in a sense I was, but not “merely.”

Isn’t that so elegiac-sounding? So very dream-like, as if Theroux was losing himself in some esoteric landscape of the heart?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quite A Sentence: DEEP SOUTH, Tuscaloosa

Are dear blog readers getting sick of the Theroux quotes? Well, too bad! Because even at his crankiest, Theroux has something to offer everyone!

Tuscaloosa is a cluttered urban island in a great, soft, rural sea: the misleadingly serene surfaces of the South — low hills, grassy swales, cotton and bean fields, swamps humming with flies, dejected woods.

Stay tuned.

More Theroux: DEEP SOUTH, Atomic Road

That is a great name for a country road. Especially one in the Deep South. Lucky for Paul Theroux, he found it. And was not deterred by a sentry outside a “big fence” who told him, in no uncertain terms, Get lost!

No, what the sentry actually told Theroux was, “Turn your car around, sir, and keep going.”

Same thing. There’s nothing more freezing sometimes than that oh-so-stoic American politeness.

And then Theroux writes:

. . .  in the South I traveled in eccentric circles, in and out of the fourth dimension, always hopeful, making plans to return, and saying to myself, as I did that day on Atomic Road: I’ll be back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Paul Theroux’s DEEP SOUTH, West Alabama

Theroux is a master of the caustic zinger. Exhibit A:

  • I was the sinner sitting among the publicans, well behind the Philistines, in a back pew. I was not normally a churchgoer, but what made a Sunday in the South complete was a church service, a gun show, or a football game.

Stay tuned.

Last Year, The Wallace Collection

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Because last summer, she was reading Howard Jacobson’s The Act of Love, which is set mostly on London’s Great Russell Street (an antiquarian book dealer’s! Just across from the British Museum!) and The Wallace Collection, in July 2015 self went to see The Wallace Collection for the first time.

She asked a museum staffer if she knew where Fragonnard’s famous painting was.

“I know exactly,” said the staffer, without missing a beat (very much like the taxi driver who said, when self inquired if he knew St. Bride’s: “Of course! I’m a London cabbie!”). “She’s in the parlor, swinging away.”

LOL!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DEEP SOUTH: Still Another Great Travel Quote

“New York City’s vast Port Authority terminal is a terrifying place in which suddenly to find oneself coping on one’s own . . . It is important to resist the temptation to sit down and weep.”

—  Ethel Mannin, author of American Journey

DEEP SOUTH: Another Great Travel Quote

Charles Dickens, on recalling his travels in America:

  • “I think it is impossible, utterly impossible, for any Englishman to live here, and be happy.”

Stay tuned.

DEEP SOUTH: Travel Quote # 1

Quote from Stephen Dedalus (Ulysses):

  • “We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”

Stay tuned.

Daoud, Still Reading

It’s about one murder and then it’s about another murder and why oh why. It’s such a dark book.

But, good writing. And exceptionally long paragraphs.

In fact, I slept for nearly three days straight, a heavy sleep with waking moments that barely revealed to me my own name. I stayed there in my bed, unmoving, without ideas or projects, my body new and amazed.

The language is truly mesmerizing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London Last Summer: St. Bride’s (TW: Possibly Disturbing Visual)

Trigger Warning: Possibly Disturbing Content

Took self a long time to find this church (She finally had to ask a cab driver who was parked on Fleet Street; His answer: “Course I know where St. Bride’s is; I’m a London cabbie!”)

The Stations of the Cross were a series of photographs which, well — gulp. Put her in mind of, you know, that:

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Stations of the Cross, St. Bride’s Church, London (June 2015)

And here’s her reading for the day from The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, which is set in Algiers:

In this movie I saw one day, a man was mounting some long flights of stairs to reach an altar where he was supposed to have his throat cut by way of soothing some god or other. The man was climbing with his head down, moving slowly, heavily, as if exhausted, undone, subdued, but most of all as if already dispossessed of his own body. I was struck by his fatalism, by his incredible passivity.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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