The Easter Parade

By Alison May 22, 2005 No Comments 3 Min Read


Occasionally a line in a book touches somewhere deep inside and remains a part of you always.

So it was with the first paragraph of "Fortunes Rocks" by Anita Shreve:

"In the time it takes for her to walk from the bathhouse to the seawall of Fortunes Rocks, where she has left her boots and discreetly pulled off her stockings, to the water line along which the sea continually licks the pink and silver sand, she learns about desire."

and the first paragraph of "Information" by Martin Amis, which makes me cry every time I read it:

"Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing. It’s nothing. Just sad dreams. Or something like that…. Swing low in your weep ship, with your tear scans and your sob probes and you would mark them. Women- and they can be wives, lovers, gaunt muses, fat nurses, obsessions, devourers, exes, nemeses, will wake and turn to these men and ask with female need to know "What is it?" And the men say Nothing. No, it isn’t anything really. Just sad dreams"

Just sad dreams. Yeah, Oh sure. Just sad dreams. Or something like that.

Richard Tull was crying in his sleep. The woman beside him, his wife Gina, woke and turned. She moved up on him from behind and laid hands on his pale and straining shoulders. There was a professionalism in her blinks and frowns and whispers: like the person at the poolside trained in first aid; like the figure surging in on the blood stained macadam, a striding Christ of mouth to mouth. She was a women. She knew so much more about tears than he did. she didn’t know about Swift1s juvenalia,  or Wordsworth’s senilia, or how Cressida had variously fared at the hands of Boccacciao, of Chaucer, of Robert Henryson, of Shakespeare: she didn’t know Proust. But she knew tears. Gina had tears cold"

and so I think it will be with this paragraph from a book my mum adored (trust me, her book recommendations are to be relied upon!) "Easter Parade" by Richard Yates:

"Esther Grimes, or Pookie, was a small active woman whose life seemed pledged to achieving and sustaining an elusive quality she called "flair". She pored over fashion magazines, dressed tastefully and tried many ways of fixing her hair, but her eyes remained bewildered and she never quite learned to keep her lipstick within the borders of her mouth, which gave her an air of dazed and vulnerable uncertainty. She found more flair among rich people than in the middle class, and so she aspired to the attitudes and mannerisms of wealth in raising her daughters. She always sought "nice" communities to live in, whether she could afford them or not, and she tried to be strict on matters of decorum" 

Isn’t that the saddest thing?

I’m scared it touches me because Esther Grimes reminds me of myself: not because my lipstick is crooked, but maybe because I want too much: expect too much: am too much…

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