Skip to main content


Showing posts from October 13, 2013

In praise of firbank

I’m interested in a tone. This sentence, for instance, in Ronald Firbank’s Caprice. “My dear, I once was thought to be a very pretty woman. ... All I can do now is to urge my remains.” This comes from an otherwise mildly repulsive secondary character, a Mrs. Smee, who Firbank mingles in with the theatrical set he is writing about. A woman whose first and abiding characteristic is her two moles. When two moles are thrown at the reader first thing, the reader backs up a bit, and a quick bit of mental business equating moles and witches occurs in the subconscious. Yet, Mrs. Smee’s remark implies a sort of conversational intelligence that is both bound to a certain class, or idea of class, and a certain ambiguous sexuality, the degree of which corresponds to the legal rigidity with which it was persecuted. One might well say that camp sprang from the law book. One can in a way divide writers as followers of the law book or eccentrics from its captiousness by using the test of Fi

the family luck

I’ve never murdered anyone. My father never murdered anyone. My grandfather never murdered anyone. Alltogether, we’ve lived a shelter life, us Gathmann men, in the twentieth century, for the state’s nets were out, and millions fell into them, drafted and turned into murderers. Or lets not exaggerate – there were those among the drafted who did not serve in the infantry, sail the seas, or fly in bombers and fighters. But millions did. It was in fact a generational experience for American men, a first blood kind of thing. World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam – duty or at least the law armed the stripling male and commanded him to murder. The same thing, of course, was demanded of British men, Russian men, German men, French men, etc. It was always the same thing: see the woman there, nursing the child? The command was simply to roast her and her suckling, make sure it was good and hot, and that around her the houses burned and the streets buckled from the heat. Simple. See the

the death of Candide

I’m here to tell you that Candide is dead. Deader than Buffalo Bill. Deader than God. This point was borne home to me Saturday night. The plan was the babysitter, a movie, dinner. Going through the offerings, we decided that the Aero theater on Montana, being close and being sorta arty, was the place to go. There was a Diablo Cody premier there – her movie, Paradise. Diablo Cody rang a distant bell in a dusty part of my memory, which I refreshed with Wikipedia. We’d seen her last movie, or the movie she wrote, in Paris – a good night! She was supposed  to do the Q and A at the Aero after the movie was over. We figured we’d duck out of that, go sneaking off to some restaurant that would surely be open on Montana. In fact, we ended up sneaking out at about the point the movie, after its experiment with satire blew up in its face, made a turn towards sentiment. I believe at this point our heroine was getting in a taxi cab after telling her two new friends that she did not come to Vegas to