It took me several months to make it back, and he grew annoyed. When I finally let myself in through the front door, he didn't get up from his chair. His form sagged so exaggeratedly into the sofa, it was as if thieves had crept through and stolen his bones and left him there. He gestured at the smoky stone fireplace with its enormous black andirons and said, "Boy, I'm sorry the wood's so poor. I had no idea i'd be alive in November." He watched as though paralyzed while I worked at building the fire back up. He spoke only to critique my form. The heavier logs at the back, to project the heat. Not too much flame. "Young men always make that mistake." He asked me to pour him some whiskey and announced flatly his intention to nap. He lay back and draped across his eyes the velvet bag the bottle had come tied in, and I sat across from him for half an hour, forty minutes. At first the talked in his sleep, then to me. The pivots of his turn to consciousness were undetectably slight, with frequent slippages. His speech was full of mutterings, warnings. The artist's life is strewn with traps. Beware "the machinations of the enemy."
    "Mr. Lytle," I whispered, "who is the enemy?"
    He sat up. His unfocused eyes were an icy blue. "Why, boy," he said, "the bourgeoisie!" Then he peered at me for a second as if he'd forgotten who I was. "Of course," he said. "you're only a baby."
    I'd poured myself two bourbons during nap time and felt them somewhat. He lifted his own cup and said, "Confusion to the enemy." We drank.

(john jeremiah sullivan, from pulphead)


Lisa said...

If I ever again read a paragraph I love, Imma send it to you. To do with what you will.

Rob S. Parham said...

More bourbon.

Rachel (heart of light) said...

Need YA reading advice. Do I go ahead and *buy* the Hunger Games triology? The wait at the library is crazy, it will be weeks between books and I've heard they're cliffhangers. 

For reference, I generally love a good science fiction/apocalyptic/survival series. Love classic L'Engle, loved "His Dark Materials" trilogy, suffered through the first Twilight book before tossing that series out the window and dusting off my hands. I would have been BITTER if I'd actually purchased that book and now I'm gunshy. 

kidchamp said...


1) certain booksellers at airports will let you return books you've read for 50% of face value. how convenient are you to LAX?
2) i could send you mine? i don't regret buying them, but i DO feel a bit silly about having the second and third in hardcover.
3) i won't lie, returns do diminish - but you're squarely in the confluence of lit interests, and i thought they were a lot of fun.
4) the pre-movie hype is great, too. the fake magazine references my favorite thierry mugler dress! it is for me.

Rachel (heart of light) said...

Fun is good enough for me. The boxed set is pretty cheap, actually. Might go for it. 

kidchamp said...

hmm; in lieu of a second lev grossman read-along here, maybe i should have a big old hunger games movie chat. of course, the rest of the universe will be doing that as well. maybe i can work in vikings.