"Her novels were initially published by Duckworth, controlled by the beady-braying-claret-and-malice pair of Colin and Anna Haycraft.”
OK, so the other thing from reading The Goldfinch this morning: The point where Theo and his mom are in the exhibit of Dutch masters in the Met, and she says, “Whenever you see flies or insects in a still life — a wilted petal, a black spot on the apple — the painter is giving you a secret message. He’s telling you that living things don’t last — it’s all temporary.”
It reminded me of a story I heard this week from my old college roommate, who was passing through town and stayed overnight. She told me about a friend of hers whose partner left her and the friend bought a house as a new place to live. It was, if I’m remembering right, the first time she’d owned a house and she found the idea of a mortgage overwhelming (it is). And then one day she was sitting in her living room and she saw these black specks going down the wall, rows and rows of them and… some Google research and a visit to an exterminator later, she learned they were bat bugs, i.e., bugs that live on bats. The obvious question is then, how many bats are up in the attic that bat bugs are appearing in other parts of the house? My roommate offered to go up and see. So she climbed the ladder to the attic and poked her head up… and the answer was A LOT OF BATS. Of course it was, but I keep thinking about it, both picturing what the attic looked like stuffed full of bats and also what it was like for the friend to sit on the couch in a new house with these rows of black dots creeping down her walls.
I finished rereading Rebecca this morning. A while back Jane had a thing on Facebook about last lines in books and if they had more exclamation points. Example (Jane’s): So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past! So Rebecca's end would be: And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea!
Started The Goldfinch right after, and its first sentence echoes Rebecca's first line (Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.): While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years. It’s just enough to make me glad to be reading them back to back, like I’m not reading lazily but on purpose. Both speakers are in hotel rooms, too, though by the time you hit “even church clocks tolling the hour, de Westertoren, Krijtberg, a dark edge to the clangor, an inwrought fairy-tale sense of doom” later in the same paragraph you know you’re in Tartt land.
Have decided to start thinking of the unnamed narrator of Rebecca as ‘Jolene.’
“I read nothing good, but I read an awful lot. Here was escape! I read lurid stuff about ladies who smelled sweet and looked like flowers and were betrayed. I read about gardens and ballrooms and moonlight trysts and murders. I felt a sense of doors opening. And I began to be conscious of myself, the way I looked, the clothes I wore.”
— Barbara Stanwyck on her early reading habits
Election for Asheville city council and mayor today. Reading up now before going to vote—are there going to be ballot measures? I don’t know!—and came across this:
The impassioned exchange occurred when Bothwell and Wainscott were debating the reasons why New Belgium chose Asheville as the location for one of its breweries. At the forum hosted by the West Asheville Business Association, Wainscott argued that the company came to area because of the economic incentive package. Bothwell, an incumbent city council member who supported New Belgium moving to the region, said the company came because of the quality of the water. Sitting next to each other and literally pointing fingers at one another, Bothwell called Wainscott a liar and Wainscott told Bothwell that all he has is “sanctimonious bullshit.”All it needs is “pointing fingers at one another while wearing North Face fleece jackets.”
"Penelope Fitzgerald — they think, ‘Ah! Middle-aged lady with frizzy hair and a nice smile; she must be writing tastefully.’ I say she’s writing against taste, quite savagely. But they don’t pick it up because they’re brash young men poncing about, waving their blood and thunder and condoms!"
— From a 1991 profile of A.S. Byatt, written after the Booker win for Possession. The profile is excellently dishy; wish the above quote was part of a poem:
“… brash young men poncing about
waving their blood