Sunday, October 23, 2005

For a list of literary lists

"Maps of towns and plains he sold, and other maps made to order. He would sell a young man a map that showed where a particular girl might be found at different hours of the day. He sold husband maps and wife maps. He sold maps to poets that showed where thoughts of power and clarity had come to other poets. He sold well-digging maps. He sold vision-and-miracle maps to holy men, sickness-and-accident maps to physicians, money-and-jewel maps to thieves, and thief maps to the police" -- Russell Hoban, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz.

From the same book, but off-topic, here is an angry, misogynistic young man's view of cruise ship passengers:

The parents sat with the faces and necks of every day coming out of their holiday clothes, spongy backs and flabby arms of women in sun-back dresses, festive trousers on men with office feet. Girls displayed in the shops of their summer dresses the stock that had not moved all year, their mouths open with surrender, their eyes blurred with hope or sharp with arithmetic.

And here is the atmosphere in a mental hospital:

In the corridors a smell of cooking wandered like a minstrel of defeat.

[The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, by Russell Hoban (Cape, 1974). A middle aged cartographer runs away from his shop. His son sets an imaginary lion on him -- the real ones being extinct -- then follows in pursuit himself. They often near the border between the mythic and the stupid, but humour and bright, accurate description keep them mostly honest.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I looked on my shelf, and I *have* got this one, unread and in mint condition (as at least a third and probably if I'm truthful, a lot more of my books). I think Hoban descends a bit too much into Klein bottles and erogenous zones of the web), but you've definitely persuaded me to read this one soon.