Sunday, 30 March 2008

Richard Ford: The Lay of the Land

'The only animate sign is a white CO2 detector mid-ceiling with its tiny blinking red beacon. Though on the wall above where a fireplace ought to be, there's a gilt-framed, essentially life-size oil portrait of an elderly, handsome, mustachioed, silver-haired, capitalist-looking gentleman in safari attire, a floppy white-hunter fedora and holding a Mannlicher .50 in front of a stuffed rhino head (the very skin used to make the couch). This fellow stares from the wall with piercing, dark robber-baron eyes, a cruel sensuous mouth, uplifted nose and bruising brow, but with a mysterious, corners-up smirk on his lips, as if once a great, diminishing joke has been told and he was the first one to get it.'

Richard Ford

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Bruno Schulz: from 'Tailors' Dummies'

'Carried on their shoulders, a silent, immobile lady had entered the room, a lady of oakum and canvas, with a black wooden knob instead of a head. But when stood in the corner, between the door and the stove, that silent woman became mistress of the situation. Standing motionless in her corner, she supervised the girls' advances and wooings as they knelt before her, fitting fragments of a dress marked with white basting thread. They waited with attention, and patience on the silent idol, which was difficult to please. That moloch was inexorable as only a female moloch can be, and sent them back to work again and again, and they, thin and spindly, like wooden spools from which thread is unwound and as mobile, manipulated with noisy scissors into its colourful mass, whirred the sewing machine, treading its pedal with one cheap patent-leathered foot, while around them grew a heap of cuttings, of motley rags and pieces, like husks and chaff spat out by two fussy and prodigal parrots. The curved jaw of the scissors tapped open like the beaks of those exotic birds.'

Bruno Schulz