The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Oh boy…

Posted on: January 24, 2008

Such was the strain of his eavesdropping that Cy was having trouble balancing. He adjusted himself clumsily on the sill. It was at about that point in the proceedings when there was a telltale tinkle of glass pane being broken and the buzzing ceased and the cracked window suddenly slid up. A careless boot-toe, he had over-stepped the platform! A woollen-capped head arrived at the level of Cy’s foot. Two hands with colourfully stained fingers then came out on to the window ledge, one of them grasped Cy’s boot firmly, as if snaring a hare, and the man in the wool cap turned to look up. His eyes were a guttering glacial blue and unrelenting. They were as a pale and transparent and fire-cold as a flame leaping out of a mineral-grained log in a grate. Eyes that you wouldn’t want to have to out-stare in an argument, thought Cy, that would make you feel like quarry in a dispute even before a word or curse was spoken, and he returned their gaze, spellbound. The vessels were large and round, containing bad emotion and amusement at once, indications of a personality that would travel the length and breadth of its own deficiencies as well as its redeeming traits, though the former seemed much more likely. And as the eyes observed him upwardly, there was something else to them too: not exactly shock, for here was a man probably not put into such conditions easily, Cy read of him, but soft-surprised cognition. Cy felt a strange perception also. As if some mutual knowledge of the other was casting itself about them. As if both their graves were simultaneously being trodden over.

From Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall

1. I know that the eyes are allegedly the window to the soul, dear Hall, but must you abuse the claim so thoroughly? It’s like a whole damn personality test took place in a few seconds.

2. (a) How in the world do you explain Cy’s incredible insight, a boy in his early teens? Over and over again you give him the sophisticated critical skills of a sage. Is that it? Is he some kind of Eastern god reincarnated in the form of a working class English lad in a dilapidated seaside town?

(b) I do appreciate that he has the presence of mind to be so contemplative considering that he’s in a disreputable part of town, up the side of a building, leaning out from a window ledge. Again, the celestial substance explains this.

3. His eyes are both “glacial” and like a “flame”, eh, at the same time? Oh, but they’re “fire-cold”, no doubt that’s supposed to make it work and not seem as if you’ve had a bit of herb.

4. Help.


9 Responses to "Oh boy…"

lmao…I really don’t have anything to add, but that your comments (esp. re: Eastern gods) had me giggling hysterically, and I’m really sick, so that’s quite a feat. 😉

Lol…”fire-cold” particularly made me giggle!

I had to stop at “A careless boot-toe, he had….” ugh! But then I read your brillant comments and had to go back and read the passage. Why did you make me do that?

Oh dear, that really is a mite overwritten, isn’t it? How come this was shortlisted for the Booker? No, don’t answer that.

Eva I’m glad I managed to make you laugh a bit then. Get well soon! It’s a good thing it’s the weekend so hopefully you can just lay around.

gentle reader, I know. I thought that was the lousiest save I ever saw in a novel, partly because for every 100 unnecessary flourishes there’s one sentence where it really works.

Cam if I suffer, you suffer. 😀

litlove I thought the very same thing when I tried to read it the first time around. In a year in which Chimamanda Adichie and Shirley Hazzard both had novels on the longlist somehow that passed them by to the shortlist.

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