Monday, April 10, 2017

Noir


I spent yesterday mostly here at home, reading what are probably two of the darkest explorations of human nature I've ever encountered -- Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locust" and "Miss Lonelyhearts." They're noir novels from the 1930s filled with drunken louts, uneducated misfits and broken dreams. I enjoyed them a lot. West created vivid, unsettling images:

     The detective saw a big woman enter the park and start in his direction. He made a quick catalogue: legs like Indian clubs, breasts like balloons and a brow like a pigeon. Despite her short plaid skirt, red sweater, rabbit-skin jacket and knitted tam o' shanter, she looked like a police captain.
     He waited for her to speak first.
     "Miss Lonelyhearts? Oh, hello..."
     "Mrs. Doyle?" He stood up and took her arm. It felt like a thigh.

I took the dog for a long walk in the morning, but I never got around to taking her to the Heath, which was my intention. She didn't seem to mind. When the sun is out she seems perfectly happy to stay home.


Adding even more noir to my day, I watched "Citizen Kane," which I hadn't seen in years. It's still a great film, with striking visual elements -- all that smoke and slanting light -- and a young Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick, who in their later years were fixtures on daytime television when I was a kid.

I Skyped with my mom in the afternoon and began making plans to go to Florida in July. I think I'll go straight to Jacksonville this time, where my mom and brother are based, rather than flying into Tampa. The flights will be less convenient but it'll mean a lot less driving. Dave will probably stay here to care for Olga and the garden. I'm trying to use the credit from British Airways for those Copenhagen flights I had to cancel last summer when my dad was so sick -- but doing so is proving to be a complicated process. Hoping to get it ironed out today.

(Top photo: Afternoon light in our bedroom.)

9 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

It's good that your mum is (apparently) feeling more confident about using Skype on her computer. Such a boon for connection between distant family members and friends.

e said...

I'll have to learn to use Skype one of these days. I hope your Mom is doing well. Sorry you'll be by=passing Tampa that trip. Is she near the beaches? If so it may be a bit cooler there in July than here.

Ms. Moon said...

Florida in July. Mr. Reed, you are a brave soul. I think you better drive over here and we'll go take a dip in the Wacissa.

Red said...

I like the contrasts in the top photo. You show the ultra modern on the left and center and then the old as in the base board and wooden door.

Sharon Anck said...

The airlines seem to make things as complicated as possible. I recently found out that American is now charging money to use my frequent flyer miles. What's the point if I still have to pay? Olga looks so content lounging in the grass.

jenny_o said...

Okay, now I'm intrigued ... both characters in the book excerpt are female (Miss and Mrs) but the detective is a HE? How does that happen?!

Good luck with the ticket booking. Something that should be simple sounds complicated.

Love to see Olga stretched out so happily! She is soaking up that sun nicely.

Steve Reed said...

YP: Yes, I depend on Skype to stay in touch! My mom has actually been OK with Skype for a while -- it's my brother who really resists it.

E: Yeah, try Skype! It's pretty amazing, and it's free!

Ms Moon: I might just do that! :) I'm still thinking about Apalachicola.

Red: I didn't even think about that when I took the picture -- I was focused mainly on the light. It's cool when other people see things in my own pictures that I missed!

Sharon: Yeah, what IS the point in that case?! I know American charges for all their food and drinks, too, which is annoying.

Jenny-O: Sharp eye! "Miss Lonelyhearts" is actually a man, whose real name we never learn. He's called "Miss Lonelyhearts" because he writes a newspaper column by that name.

John Gray said...

Miss lonleyhearts was in vertigio

jenny_o said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Steve :)