Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turn Your Browser into a Ouija Board

Robert Muir has found a link that may allow you to search through Polito's Reader's Guide to James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Life of the Mind

Robert pointed out to me—unfortunately before the discussion—this "difficult" posture on the very first page of Two People:

the [two] boys, each with an arm around the other's neck, and holding hands in the pocket of one of their coveralls….

And then here from a short story of his we read a while ago, "Servants with Torches," about a boy and man sitting close together, on a wooden bench (no backs):

after a while the boy, leaning back, spread himself out so that one of his hands was beneath [the man's] leg.

Given this difficulty of construing some of Windham's concrete descriptions, it is perhaps less surprising that his abstract ruminations can at times seem so mystifying.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Topography

Giordano Bruno was imprisoned in the Castel Sant'Angelo. "Eight years later, he was brought out one morning and burned alive in the Campo dei Fiori."

how does a man spend eight years finding new ways to present the same viewpoint, to develop the same argument?

This is the question (p. 70) Forrest wants to investigate in the Vatican Archives. It is a question which could be asked about Forrest himself, who has been married eight years. He has a significantly "squishy" experience following the voice of an unseen youth as he nears the place of Bruno's execution (p. 9). And coincidence of coincidences (and not unappreciated by Forrest) Marcello … lives on the Via Giordano Bruno.

There may be more to Windham's list of bus stops than meets the eye.

(Curiously, for all the specified places in Two People, we never learn exactly where Forrest lives, do we? Somewhere near the Spanish Steps, of course, but above them? below? … )

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Windham and sex talk

I was thinking about our discussion last night and specifically about the lack of direct talk about sex in "Two People." In "Last Exit to Brooklyn" Hubert Selby Jr. certainly uses frank language about sex (including homosexuality). That book is from the same period and was a success. So, why is it okay for Selby to use it and not Windham? Is it the violence factor in Selby's novel that makes it acceptable to the reading public of the 1960's? Just thought I would throw that out there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fontana delle Tartarughe

This fountain appears in Donald Windham's Two People. As there, on my first visit to Rome I happened upon it, knowing nothing about it — a wonderful surprise! I can't remember whether it was then that I fell in love with Rome, but it could not have been afterwards.

P.S. At our discussion some one remarked on how little description of places in Rome there is in this novel whose spine seems to consists of an interleaving list of Roman bus stops. One exception certainly is this fountain, which is described first when Marcello passes by it on his way to school and then near the end when Forrest comes upon it with "wild surmise".