Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Three Books That Are Simultaneously Sexy and Depressing.

1. A Sport and a Pastime, James Salter. A Yale dropout has a a love affair with a French girl, played out in French towns you've never heard of and imagined by a somewhat strange and definitely dirty narrator. The occasionally excessive prose is balanced by devastatingly real moments, sure dialogue and a saturating atmosphere. Sample passage: "There are terrible moments in which one sees love with cold eyes. Her face is a shopgirl's, Dean can see it plainly, pretty but cheap. He is overwhelmed with impatience. He wants only to be gone from here."

2. Damage, Josephine Hart. The book is the basis for the awesomely melodramatic movie starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche. A man has an affair with his son's fiancee, with a spectacularly tragic outcome. Sample passage: "Guilt, guilt, its pious expression alone is in fact today's greatest absolution. Just say the guilt prayer, 'I feel guilty,' and hey presto, that's the punishment. So punished, and therefore cleansed, one can continue with the crime."

3. Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, Vladimir Nabokov. You know Lolita is sexy in a very wrong way, but it's nothing compared to this incestuous epic. I don't have this tome with me, so I'll rely on this page for a sample passage: "What (Ada asks) are eyes anyway? Two holes in the mask of life. What (she asks) would they mean to a creature from another corpuscle or milk bubble whose organ of sight was (say) an internal parasite resembling the written word ‘deified’? What, indeed, would a pair of beautiful (human, lemurian, owlish) eyes mean to anybody if found lying on the seat of a taxi?"

What else?

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