So I’ve been between novels for a long time now, since June, really, and the other day I grabbed a few things off the shelf to try out. I’ve got the rest of the summer ahead of me, and thought maybe about spending it with another long, long, long books. So I opened Gaddis’s The Recognitions which was slow going until the second page, where I found this paragraph:
The ship’s surgeon was a spotty unshaven little man whose clothes, arrayed with smudges, drippings, and cigarette burns, were held about him by an extensive network of knotted string. The buttons down the front of those duck trousers had originally been made, with all of false economy’s ingenious drear deception, of coated cardboard. After many launderings they persisted as a row of gray stumps posted along the gaping portals of his fly. Though a boutonnière sometimes appeared through some vacancy in his shirt-front, its petals, too, proved to be of paper, and he looked like the kind of man who scrapes foam from the top of a glass of beer with the spine of a dirty pocket comb, and cleans his nails at table with the tines of his salad form, which things, indeed, he did. He diagnosed Camilla’s difficulty as indigestion, and locked himself in his cabin. That was the morning.
It’s better knowing that Camilla actually has appendicitis, but isn’t that maybe the best paragraph rundown of a minor character ever?
For some reason, I couldn’t stick with the book, and turned, instead, to Pynchon’s Against the Day. This one’s faring much better: The World’s Columbia Expedition! J. Pierpont Morgan! The Chums of Chance!
I’ll keep everyone posted maybe.