Thursday, December 03, 2009

the hour between sardines

Sometimes things just go wrong. Your poems are rejected. Your children don’t want breakfast. Employee morale is low. You die from buttocks surgery. Your eye hurts.

You’ll be advised to lay off the Bach Cantatas, turn off the news and read some uplifting poetry. But really it would be better to put all that baloney aside and go with the truth. Misery loves company, especially when the company’s misery is way worse than one’s own.

What better time to wallow in a book about life at its most deplorable, like The Kindly Ones. Here I am on p. 420, where, after apparently being shot in the head in Stalingrad, Hauptsturmführer Aue is hallucinating about riding around in a dirigible with the mysterious Doktor Sardine.

“Suddenly, Sardine put his glasses on his eyes and leaned forward to examine me: ‘And are you looking for the end of the world too?’—‘Sorry?’ – ‘The end of the world! The end of the world! Don’t act innocent. What else could have brought you out here?’ – ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about Doktor.’ He grimaced, bounded out of his chair, ran around the table, seized an object, and hurled it at my head. I caught it in the nick of time. It was a cone mounted on a base, painted like a globe with the continents spread out around it; the flat base was gray and bore the caption TERRA INCOGNITA. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve never seen that?’ Sardine went back to his seat and was rolling another cigarette. ‘Never, Doktor,’ I replied. – ‘What is it?’ – ‘It’s the earth! Idiot! Hypocrite! Two-faced bastard!’”

I’m lucky, too, that there are a lot of lice in this book. I love stories with lice. I haven’t seen so many lice in a book since the magnificent/significant Kolyma Tales! Go Russia!

I’d like to thank Jonathan Littell for this book. Whenever I open it, I feel like I'm entering a dilapidated and rotting mansion, at once fascinating and disgusting. That ear infection scene - wow! My son asked what I was grimacing about. And when I told him, he had further questions.


Kass said...

Gross and disgusting and weird - count me in, kindly.

Ron. said...

I'm ordering. NOW.

SarahJane said...

Let me include the warning that much of it is not for the sensitive stomach. It's the SS doing what the SS did.

rallentanda said...

Buttocks surgery intrigues me..Is this a German thing?A way of slicing off weight perhaps?

SarahJane said...

Last week a woman, who apparently used to be a beauty queen (?), died of cosmetic surgery on her butt. I don't think buttocks surgery has made it to Germany yet, but what do I know. The woman was from So. America, I think. I am sorry for making fun of her. I didn't mean to make fun of her - it just seems an awful way to die. But all ways of dying seem kind of awful.

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