craft

Night three of a gnarly cold. Box a day "Cool Touch" Kleenex habit. Laundry basket toppling with sweat-soaked pajamas and sheets. Too muddleheaded and achey to produce original content (I tried, honest, but the words are bulging and squirming and oh hey, time for more Advil). Instead, something not of my own, but much better anyway.

I'm halfway through Rabbit Is Rich, and my god. I have never in all my. A sampling:

The girls Buddy brings around are a good lesson to Harry in the limits of being single--hard little secretaries and restaurant hostesses, witchy-looking former flower children with grizzled ponytails and flat chests full of Navajo jewelry, overweight assistant heads of personnel in one of those grim new windowless office buildings a block back from Weiser where they spend all day putting computer print-outs in the wastebasket. Women pickled in limbo, their legs chalky and their faces slightly twisted, as if they had been knocked into their thirties by a sideways blow.

Jesus god.

He is glad to escape the house, the pinch of the women, their heat. Crazy the way they flog at each other with these ghosts of men, Daddy dead, Nelson gone, even Harry himself a kind of ghost in the way they talk of him as if he wasn't standing right there. Day after day, mother and daughter sharing that same house, it's not natural. Like water blood must run or grow a scum.

Some characterizations:

That slippery-quick salesman's smile of his, Rabbit can see it still. Like a switchblade without the click.

...she has milky skin like his daughter but is shorter, and the weary woman she will be is already moving into her face.

She looks allergic, that pushed-in face, like she'd have trouble breathing. Defects come in clumps.

The liquid in the glass he can't identify by its color, a sickly but intense red like old-fashioned cream soda or the fluid in thermometers.

He looks in the candlelight after saying this like a cardsharp who has snapped down an ace.

His gray suit makes him seem extra vulnerable, in the way of children placed in unaccustomed clothes for ceremonies they don't understand. 

...he enunciates with such casual smiling sonorousness that his sentences seem to keep traveling around a corner after they are pronounced. 

I'm going to keep a copy of this book with me at all times, so the next time someone mistakes what I do for writing, I can hurl it at them and yell "NO, THIS IS WRITING."

I remember starting Rabbit, Run several years ago but I must not have gotten very far. Either that or I just glided across the surface, not apprehending, too lazy to take my time with it. I don't think I've ever read anything as slowly as I'm reading this, which is probably more useful to a wannabe such as myself than a dozen workshops. Good thing my highlighter is digital because it'd be dry by now.

For storytelling my heart belongs to John Irving and for inventiveness I'm still reeling from Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad. But for craft? Why hello, John Updike. Hellooooooo.