Nightwood

[amazon template=image&asin=0811216713]

I tried reading this again, and was finally able to plow my way through the heavy soggy pages. Despite my love of Gertrude Stein, I am not a huge fan of modernism, and this book at first and second glance seems to be a ragtag loosely connected group of words of the worst kind of this style. Ostensibly about Felix, the pseudo baron who has a child with Robin Vote (but Robin runs away with Nora Flood and later away with Jenny Petherbridge), and the doctor–Matthew O’Connor from Pacific Street in San Francisco–and the tales weave around Berlin, Paris, and unnamed areas of the U.S. There are some amusing bits, but it’s like scouring the beach at Dead Horse Bay, looking desperately for ancient treasures hidden by the sea.

* “My heart aches for all poor creatures putting on dog and not a pot to piss in or a window to throw it from.”
* “For if pigeons flew out of his bum, or castles sprang out of his ears, man would be troubled to know which was his fate, a house a bird or a man”
* “Love falling buttered side down, fate falling arse up!”
* “Cynicism, laughter, the second husk into which the shucked man crawls.”
* “In the king’s bed is always found, just before it becomes a museum piece, the droppings of the black sheep.”
* “I like the prince who was reading a book when the executioner touched him on the shoulder telling him that it was time, and he, arising, laid a papercutter between the pages to keep his place and closed the book.”

On the plus side, reading books like this acts as a kick in the pants to my own writing, the seams of this so visible that it makes novices trembling believe they can take up the stitch themselves and have a go at crafting.