It’s impossible here in Russia not to acknowledge my bourgeois background. This morning, a rainy one, I lingered happily over my luxurious breakfast in a lovely room. The rain splattered outside, inside white table cloths, linen napkins, friendly waitresses willing to let me practice my few remaining Russian phrases, happy to fetch me a a poached egg, more tea. All this along with the time to relax, to savor it. I remembered Dickey’s poem, and gave it a nod. I didn’t even have to think about where to procure the sausages–it was all there for me. Continue reading “Bourgeois Individuality”
I am lucky to have read three excellent books in a row, Monsieur Monde Vanishes, by Georges Simenon in a new translation by Jean Stewart, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein), and The Other Language, a book of stories by Francesca Marciano.
The stories in the The Other Language are sharply observed vignettes from Italy, Africa, Paris, New York. Almost all have a middle-aged female protagonist. Here are a few lines from “The Presence of Men,” about a very gentle yoga-teacher’s reaction to a husband’s affair:
“Lara stood up from the kitchen table, where they were eating a spinach and beluga lentil salad, and hurled the plate across the room. She saw the crumbled feta scatter in slow motion, then land on his shirt like snowflakes.
She detected a flash of terror in his eyes and knew that at last she’d gained some power over him. She immediately furthered the opportunity and slapped him in the face. Continue reading “The exemplary sentence”