Gotham Diary:
28 August 2014

Tomorrow, we go home. We will leave for town first thing in the morning. Of course we’d love to stay longer. Kathleen’s brother just left a few minutes ago, and it would have been nice to have more than one day just to ourselves. At the same time, I’m weary of cooking in someone else’s kitchen, without the resources of Fairway and, even more, Agata & Valentina, and I’ve begun to miss my pillows and my reading chair.

It’s great to be out here today, though, because of the invisible hurricane. Hundreds of miles out to sea, Hurrican Cristobal is spinning its way past Bermuda, past Nova Scotia. There is not a cloud in the sky, but the bay is choppy enough for a proper storm, and the wind is very high. The air feels so scrubbed that it is almost abrasive. And of course the surf is pounding like crazy: only a madman would go anywhere near the water. The beach has been paved hard and smooth by the sheets of water that have been swept ashore. I wish it were like that every day: great for walking!

I finished reading The Kindly Ones this morning. I remembered very little of it, which made me wonder whether I was paying attention when I read it in the Nineties. What I do remember is hating the next book, The Valley of Bones, almost until the end, when I suddenly understood the agony of Gwatkin. Dislike turned to love: I can’t wait to read it again. And indeed I may not.

The unseen storm, the prospect of packing and traveling, and the first stages of sorting through recollections of this fourth August in or around Ocean Beach have put me in a twaddlesome frame of mind. I’m inclined to write about the daily trivialities that I know I shall hate to read about later on. Every now and then, I manage to brace paragraphs of highly perishable fluff with a resonant girder, but when I fail, the result is so vacuous that, now mindful of the mortification, I’m averse to running the risk. I can’t write about what’s most on my mind, after four weeks of visits. Reflections on my grandson, his parents, my brother-in-law, and a clutch of old friends have been greatly intensified by the reading of Anthony Powell, but they have no place here and indeed I will reduce very few of them to writing of any kind. Most of my impressions will be folded into the ongoing conversation that I have been having with Kathleen for the past thirty-five years.

Half-seriously, I’m curious to know how Kant’s categorical imperative applies to the reading of novels — which of course implies the writing of novels. But bloviation on that interesting subject will have to be postponed. Kathleen has just returned from seeing her brother off, and she has presented me with this morning’s Times. Further twaddle forestalled, I wish

Bon weekend à tous!