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A few good lines from a few good books

Trees seen on the walk to work.

But on to the books: from the incomparable quasi-mystery author Kate Atkinson and from her story Transparent Fiction from the collection Not the End of the World. This wonderful description on entering a party of mostly strangers.

Fletcher and Meredith stood awkwardly in the doorway like shy creatures arriving late at a waterhole. Fiddy, for Meredith presumed it must be her, suddenly spotted them and rushed over as if they were masked intruders, her features fixed in an interrogative spasm.

“Fletcher,” Fletcher said, “Fletcher Smith. We met at the Queer Street screening. you invited me tonight. You did,” he added helpfully as Fiddy twisted her neck and turned her face up like a thoughtful flamingo in order to access her memory.

To me, Atkinson’s careful attention to detail and basic humanity seem like Britain’s version of Karin Fossum.

And from Laurence Osborne‘s Bangkok Days, a philosophical yet quite carnal and evocative travel book (and having just been in Bangkok I can say for the parts we had in common, quite accurate)..

“There are worse places in which to be sixty.”

He added that what Bangkok offered to the aging human was a culture of complete physicality. It was tactile, humans pressing against each other in healing heat: the massage, the bath, the foot therapy, the handjob, you name it. The physical isolation and sterility of Western life, its physical boredom, was unimaginable.

“There’s a reason we’re so neurotic and violent and unhappy. Especially as we get on a bit, no one ever touches us.”

I thought of him returning from work every evening it a neat suburban house in Perth, until the day his wife died and everything came unstuck. Twenty years of not being touched? That was the way it had been, but one couldn’t say it. The forlorn rags of growing old, or a last beautiful disgrace in the Land of Smiles. He had taken the arduous leap into the latter.

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