Last night Jesse & Casey asked if I could watch the boys so they could go to a friend’s farewell party. Morley and Dashiell were already asleep when I came over, so I got to sit in a real living room and read for a couple hours. I was struck by how quiet their flat is. It’s on the outskirts of town (a couple blocks away from where I’ll be living next year), and most of their neighbors are pensioners. In my little room in Gannochy, I have the background noise of 80 other souls: doors opening and slamming, footsteps going up and down the stairwell, blow dryers or vacuums running at all hours of the day or night, toilets flushing and the one toilet that takes five minutes to refill its tank, glass bottles being dropped into the recycle bins in the courtyard, banging and clamoring in the kitchen down the hall, and a near-constant stream of Chinese. Not to mention the permanent flocks of seagulls, traffic noise from North Street and the Scores, the musicians practicing in Younger Hall or the occasional dance held there, and the undergraduates coming to and from Sallies Hall after a night at a pub or the Union. To actually sit in a living room that was quiet save for the occasional songbird and the rain was very relaxing. Thanks Casey and Jesse! 🙂
I read The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Booker Prize in 1989. Set in 1959, Mr Stevens takes a drive from Darlington Hall in Oxfordshire to the West Country hoping to recruit a former housekeeper. During his six-day drive he ruminates upon several episodes during his career as a butler for Lord Darlington and on his relationship with Miss Kenton, now Mrs Benn. I admit that I may be missing something because I seem to be the only person to feel so, but I was somewhat disappointed in this book. Obviously it won the Booker prize, and it is also listed by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 greatest novels. The novel is stream of consciousness, 258 pages of it, and more often than not I found myself bored. Considering that I occasionally find my own stream of consciousness tedious, this does not surprise me. Upon finishing the book, one of my first thoughts was, ‘If I had wanted to read a stream of consciousness novel set in the interwar period, I would have read Mrs Dalloway‘ and it is precisely my aversion to stream of consciousness that I have avoided Virginia Woolf’s novel. The ending, also, left me dissatisfied. The tone, which had been spot on the entire time, suddenly changed three pages from the end. Such a shift seemed far too sudden and not in-character, especially when by the last sentence it became evident that Mr Stevens hadn’t had a revelation after all. I wouldn’t go so far to say that ‘nothing happens,’ but nearly so. Though perhaps that is the point of a stream of consciousness novel. Perhaps it is my own prejudice that colors my reaction to this book; otherwise it was very well written and well researched. Mr Stevens was the quintessential butler; compared to him, Jeeves is merely a valet. Regardless, I probably would see the film adaptation (mainly because it stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson) but would also be more discerning when recommending this book. I hope that Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go will be more enjoyable.
Today I took a rather long walk down West Sands. The tide was out, offering a wide expanse of sand. Walking on West Sands always feels a little bit like escaping: the town is behind you and the beach goes on seemingly forever. Each time I’m tempted to see how far I can go. Today it was windy and bright, a western wind blowing both clouds and sand into the sea. The clouds looked close enough that if I climbed up St Rule’s tower I could have touched them. When I looked up, I saw the color of Ibelyn: a bold, dark blue, arrogant and royal. Like Afghan lapis lazuli. Those who think ‘sky blue’ is pale need to look up and stare into the depth of the sky.