I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Age's spectre - not all that bad

People fall in love: become ecstatic, transformed, generous not mean, more perceptive, etc. You know the drill.

Few look ahead and I sympathise. What could a sarky old bastard like me, married for 54 years, bring to a lover’s elevated state? Nothing at all; in my case even less. I've just despatched my novel in which a male protagonist, inevitably a Brit, cautions the heroine, inevitably a Yank, against "big" words like love. And gives reasons.

At our age (VR is two years younger) we see a relationship that has passed through many stages, some we would hate to repeat. What exists now (and I would never presume on that dangerous four-letter word) is often expressed in unheralded acts.

Last night we had kefta: small meat balls in a chili-based tomato sauce on rice. It’s rare because VR hates making those little balls.

I said:"unheralded". I said: last night we had kefta.

Overturning that literary climacteric, dessert was vanilla ice cream with raisins soaked in dark rum. Intense bitterness uniquely mitigated. VR refuses to give it a name. She's irritating that way.

PROUST PERCEIVED My novel’s at the publisher; I can resume reading the wordy master of the Boulevard Haussmann.

And meanwhile Francoise would be turning on the spit one of those chickens such as she alone knew how to roast, chickens which have wafted far abroad from Combray the sweet savour of her merits, and which, while she was serving them to us at the table, would make the kindness predominate for the moment in my private conception of her character… the aroma… so unctuous and so tender… seeming to me no more than the proper perfume of one of her many virtues

6 comments:

Lucy said...

That meal looks and sounds truly sumptuous (I much admire your tagine - I'd like to own one but safe storage bothers me). It's also nice for VR too, I think, that she can surprise you with the kefta - the temptation to herald is strong in these instances, bravo to her to have resisted - and know that you will be happy and appreciative, knowing she doesn't like the making of them.

And a lovely pairing too with the Proust and Francoise's chicken! So much delicious food in Swann's Way (or the Way by Swann's, whatever). Though I seem to recall how she got the chicken to that point (sale bĂȘte!) is somewhat less savoury.

The Crow said...

I have a name for the dessert, a metaphor perhaps for your evolved relationship (intense bitterness uniquely mitigated): Love on Snow

You fortunate fool of a man, eating your love one spoonful, one dish at a time. There will never be a word big enough to contain what you two have.

Rouchswalwe said...

Ach! Kefta! I have just the beer for that! Mmmm.

Unheralded ... I like that word. I miss surprises in my life. Happy surprises.

Prost to you both!

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: I fear the tagine is stolen from Google Images, By the time I received the impulse to write this post, I myself had washed up the dish the kefta came in. I was - God help me - reduced to words. However, in some respects I wasn't too sad - I wanted to stress "unheralded" as much as anything and any kind of preparation on my part might have undermined the idea. I'm glad you picked up on this.

What's more, you picked up on a passage from Swann which I almost included but felt it would be too raw, Francoise and the chicken while still alive. I am after all laying extracts of Proust in front of my wonderful readers in the hope that I may cause a small infection. It was eerie to have you come back so swiftly regarding the bit I didn't include. I wonder how far you've got. Did you say you were reading an abridged version? Whatever, keep going please. I can never have too many Proustians around me, expecially now that the mightiest is mere ashes, and oh the difference in me.

Crow: Dear, dear Martha. How easily you use that word, how much I wince. And exactly for the reason you cite in its favour. True: the word cannot contain all the implications; yesterday's headlines show this: the man who beheaded the US journalist no doubt loves Allah. Others have shown themselves willing to die for Allah. Surely for reasons closely associated with love. A dangerous word which can betray the utterer as it leaves his/her mouth.

But don't take my word. Listen to Christopher Day a self-admitted British shit, though reasonably articulate. Who's so "in love" he contemplates doing the thing which no "lover" would ever do:

“Jana, Jana.” He cupped a hand against her left cheek. “I know enough about words not to use the big ones. The meanings differ so damn much.

Day is not against "love" only against the imprecision of the word. But then Jana was born in the same country as you. She says:

Brits may not use the big words but I’m a sentimental Yank. I am as sure as I can be – as an interested party – that you love me. And I certainly love you. Losing you will be like having my heart ripped out.

Loving stuff. But Jana is also honest, especially when she thinks about Day:

He’d chosen words for her alone; the sentences were unique. He’d helped her to shut out the staring world. Never mind if his feelings stopped short of yearning or longing, that only the tone of his voice provided feeble confirmation..

An argument which will continue "til all the seas gang dry" (another cross-ref to OoA.) And you're there too. Here's the dedication page:

To VR
Tone Deaf’s conscience and this novel’s sounding board

To Joe
Editor supreme; sorely missed

To Martha (The Crow)
For turning Mike Brubaker into a Texan; for
distinguishing between a studio and efficiency

RW (zS): The world seen through the prism of a glass of beer. Promise me you'll use "unheralded" within the next thirty days. It needs exercising.

Lucy said...

I seem to remember there was a lovely bit about the chicken skin looking like an embroidered chasuble too.

I'm listening to an abridged version, the 35 audiobook CD set I got with an Amazon voucher I received for a colour pencil drawing many years ago. I wouldn't read abridged text, would settle rather for getting not so far, but figure that listening (almost) justifies such a cheat, and it does allow me to relax and absorb the music of it and acquire an overview. This is the second time around, now I'm some way into Swann in Love, and even with the shortened version find there's a huge amount I don't recall, as you said, the first time it was more a case of needing to get to the end of the marathon. Also, certain characters and episodes fall into place better knowing how they fit into the whole. When I come to a particularly interesting bit I do sometimes hunt it down in the complete text in English and French - Kindle enables this better than print - which often reveals details the abridging left out. I think I could probably spend the rest of my life pottering about this project, oddly it doesn't bother me that it could take forever.

That dedication page brings something of a lump to the throat and a sting to the eye.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: We seem to be marching closer and closer in step, as if we were due to sign up with the Brigade of Guards. Soon after I started re-reading I lost my place in the Kindle and found myself reading passages I'd read only a week before. Much of which I'd already forgotten.

Also "doesn't bother me that it could take forever" rings a bell. This time I decided to read more slowly than I'd done before. Kindle assists in this because the lines are shorter than they are in the printed book. Also, because of Kindle's "percentage" page counting system (after several weeks I'm still only 5% into Swann's Way or - possibly - the whole book) I have the continuing impression I'll never reach the end. And this is important. With Proust more than any other author it seems obligatory to travel hopefully. There are so many asides, quite detached from the plot. Also there's a further incidental process going on in my head - a voice saying this extract is suitable for Tone Deaf. Just a hint to non-Proustians that old Marcel was more than just length.