Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Hair today, Proust tomorrow

Sometimes people think I am shallow. You'll agree or disagree depending on where, when and how you know me. A couple of random quotes to illustrate the "shallow" hypothesis:

Kim: "When did you become so shallow?" (2004)

Early Bird: "When Theresa first started working in magazines she was an intellectual hippie from Grahamstown, but look how shallow she´s become!" (2006)

In 2005 Mim gave me a hair-straightener for my birthday. I was delighted with the present, and had painstakingly straightened locks for a month or so; then I shaved all my hair off. I also demanded (and received) the box set of In Search of Lost Time for Christmas - to pacify my pseudo-intellectual side. My hair has since grown back. And I´m only halfway through The Guermantes Way. But reading this poem, first brought to my attention by Early Bird, makes me feel better.

Anyway, while I was in London, my dear friend Caramello gave me a very generous voucher for my birthday. And it's not all about hair and lipstick, so I was glad it was for Waterstone's rather than The Bodyshop. A list of my purchases follows.

1. Complicity
Iain Banks
GX and I have a running argument as to whether Iain Banks or Iain M Banks is the better writer. Considering I have read only the former, and GX only the later, it's never gonna be settled until one of us becomes less precious about our selection of reading material.
2. Odd Girl Out
Anne Bannon
The first lesbian pulp fiction novel. Despite the wimpy main character and surprising lack of sex scenes, it's still a classic.
3. The Road to Oxiana
Robert Byron
The original Bruce. Byron is the hero of my hero, which makes him a super hero.
4. The Princess Bride
William Goldman
An epic tale of "true love and high adventure". I never tire of it.
5. Atomised
Michel Houellebecq
I revelled in discovering Houellebecq. But honestly, there´s only so much of ageing Frenchmen fucking hot young things that one can take before it begins to pall.
6. Confessions of Zeno
Italo Svevo
Actually the book I bought was called Zeno's Conscience, but I prefer the translation above. I first came across this novel through William Kentridge's opera, and have spent years searching for my own copy after UCT library rudely demanded I return the one that belonged to them, as well as issuing me with a hefty library fine. The book sits by my bed for the day or night when I am inspired to give up smoking. Until such a time, I am a devotee of the last-cigarette ritual.

'To reduce its outlandish appearance, I even tried to give a philosophical content to the last-cigarete disease. Striking a beautiful attitude, one says: "Never again." But what becomes of that attitude if the promise is then kept? It´s possible to strike the attitude only when you are obliged to renew the vow.'

pp 13 to 14

Right, it's 1:.29am on 27.03.08, hardly an auspicious date to give up smoking. So I'm off for a "last cigarette" before bed.

4 comments:

Bec said...

Like you I have never read Iain Banks when he puts the intermediary M in, but I still maintain that 'Whit' is one of the greatest reads I have ever had the pleasure of stumbling across.

And oh, how I *despise* Houellebecq, and yet morbid revulsion drives me to read him time and again. But really, enough. Camus did it all so much more tastefully 50 years ago.

TM said...

I loved "Whit" too...

RK said...

A bit late on this post, but here's a good read on quitting smoking:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/05/080505fa_fact_sedaris?currentPage=all

TM said...

Thanks. Am quitting in less than 48 hours (yikes!), so I will need some encouragement...