Friday, September 3, 2010

the arc of description

(or maybe that should be "ark") is long but it bends toward the beauty of men? This is a footnote, which however given the format of blogspot will appear as a headnote, to my entry on the Holleran collection below. All his fiction, I dare say, is inspired by, if not explicitly about, the Beauty of Men. As I mentioned below, descriptions of said beauty are fewer and shorter than sunsets, sermons, seawalls, and urchins (only the first two of course, I'll replace the latter if something more appropriate occurs to me). "Joshua and Clark" is a really fun story. Holleran is Proustian not only in his reminiscence but, when he chooses to be, in his social comedy. Here follows—I will again dare say—his longest description of any man (the semi-eponymous Clark) in his entire œuvre:

… with a face that resembled that of a creature on a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch. He had no chin, for one thing, or at least a very recessive one. He had bad skin, for another: pitted, scarred, pockmarked. He had what appeared to be a broken nose, and small, gray eyes, and lead-gray, thinning hair that was lank and greasy-looking at the same time, combed forward over the top of his high, shiny, forehead in little Napoleonic wisps. The head itself was, furthermore, too small for his body [I'm saying nothing!], and oddly shaped. He looked prematurely aged; he looked like something in a medieval painting—the stable hand in breeches and leather jerkin slopping swill for the hogs while the prince rides past on a white horse; he looked colorless, light-starved, malnourished. He was the blade of grass that turns yellow lying under a pot. He was a creature starved for oxygen in the womb. He was a shock. When he was amused, his lips drew back to expose the gum above his uneven yellow teeth, and he laughed so hard he sprayed the air with saliva that caught the light of the jukebox at his side as he was bending over at the waist.

What to make of this … perhaps only the obvious, that it's easier to ridicule the bad than to praise the good. Anyhow, don't feel too sorry for Clark. He has a big dick. Everyone wants to sleep with him … once!

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