Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wait Until Spring, Bandini (John Fante)

Finally got around to reading some of this wonderful writer.
Loved the style, the narrative, wow, full-blast energy, fiery
Italian family in Colorado in 1930s, voice full of surprises
& play, mob of poor & lively driven folks trying to get through,
love & poverty, a high-pressure hose loosely held & almost out of

This passage from page 27 was my favorite,
Maria & her furnace:

"It was so cold that morning, so cold. Her jaw chattered
and ran away from her. The dark green linoleum might
have been a sheet of ice under her feet, the stove itself a
block of ice. What a stove that was! a despot, untamed and
ill-tempered. She always coaxed it, soothed it, cajoled it,
a black bear of a stove subject to fits of rebellion, defying
Maria to make him glow; cantankerous stove that, once
warm and pouring sweet heat, suddenly went berserk and
got yellow hot and threatened to destroy the very house.

Only Maria could handle that black block of sulking iron,
and she did it a twig at a time, caressing the shy flame,
adding a slab of wood, the another and another, until it
purred beneath her care, the iron heating up, the oven
expanding and the heat thumping it until it grunted and
groaned in content, like an idiot.

She was Maria, and the stove loved only her. Let Arturo
or August drop a lump of coal into its greedy mouth
and it went mad with its own fever, burning and blistering
the paint on the walls, turning a frightful yellow, a chunk
of hell hissing for Maria, who came frowning and capable,
a cloth in her hand as she twitted it here and there,
shutting the vents deftly, shaking its bowels until it
resumed its stupid normalcy.

Maria, with hands no larger than frayed roses, but that
black devil was her slave, and she really was very fond
of it. She kept it shining and flashily vicious, its nickel
plated trade name grinning evilly like a mouth too proud
of its beautiful teeth."

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Friday, November 8, 2013

"A book melts and shifts in the memory."

"To grasp the shadowy & phantasmal form of a book,
to hold it fast, to turn it over and survey it at leisure--
that is the effort of a critic of books, and it is perpetually

Nothing, no power, will keep a book steady & motionless
before us, so that we may have time to examine its shape
& design. As quickly as we read, it melts & shifts in
the memory.

Even at the moment when the last page is turned,
a great part of the book, its finer detail, is already
vague and doubtful.

A little later, after a few days or months, how much
is really left of it? A cluster of impressions, some
clear points emerging from a mist of uncertainty, this
is all we can hope to possess . . . in the name of a book."

-Percy Lubbock, The Craft of Fiction (1931)

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