fiction

Carolyn decided.

"Carolyn decided, again with her relentless logic, that if we won the football game against Stranahan, she'd do it with Larry. We creamed them. Carolyn's face walking off the field of honor was not the usual bright cherry red from screaming her lungs out but an ashen and drawn white. Connie and I went over to her to bolster her.

From  Take Ivy  by  Teruyoshi Hayashida et al.

From Take Ivy by Teruyoshi Hayashida et al.

Then the three of us went back to the locker room to wait for our dates--all Princeton haircuts, Weejun shoes, and Gold Cup socks." (99)


Brown, Rita Mae. Rubyfruit Jungle. New York: Bantam Books, 1973.

You know exactly who these boys are.

With the Stuffing Out

"She was a giant of a woman, her face was set not only to meet opposition, but to seek it out. The downward tilt of her large lower lip was like a warning sign: "don't tamper with me." Her bulging figure was encased in a green crape dress and her feet overflowed in red shoes. She had on a hideous hat. A purple velvet flap came down on one side of it, and stood up on the other. The rest of it was green and looked like a cushion with the stuffing out. She carried a mammoth red pocketbook that bulged throughout as if it were stuffed with rocks.

Vintage photo with attitude (and hats) from the wonderful  Wildfell Hall .

Vintage photo with attitude (and hats) from the wonderful Wildfell Hall.

To Julian's disappointment the little boy climbed up on the empty seat beside his mother. His mother lumped all children, black and white, into the common category "cute," and she thought little Negroes were on the whole cuter than little white children. She smiled at the little boy as he climbed on the seat. Meanwhile, the woman was bearing down on the empty seat beside Julian. To his annoyance, she squeezed herself into it. He saw his mother's face change as the woman settled herself next to him, and he realized with satisfaction that this was more objectionable to her than it was to him. Her face seemed almost grey, and there was a look of dull recognition in her eyes, as if she suddenly had sickened at some awful confrontation. Julian saw it was because she and the woman had, in a sense, swapped sons, though his mother would not recognize the symbolic significance of this. She would feel it. His amusement showed plainly on his face.

The woman next to him muttered something unintelligible to herself. He was conscious of a kind of bristling next to him, a muted growling, like that of an angry cat. He could not see anything but the red pocketbook upright on the bulging green thighs. He visualized the woman as she had stood waiting for her tokens, the ponderous figure rising from the red shoes upward over the solid hips, the mammoth bosom, the haughty face, to the green-and-purple hat. His eyes widened. The vision of the two hats, identical, broke upon him with the radiance of brilliant sunrise."

 

O'Connor, Flannery. "Everything That Rises Must Converge" from Everything that Rises Must Converge. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1965.

 

Read the story or listen to it on Selected Shorts to get in on the joke! Beautiful use of clothing in fiction, underlining the plot and punctuating the moral, that exclamation point of a hat.

Public Exhibition

"Wilson liked poetry, but he absorbed it secretly, like a drug. ... His taste was romantic. For public exhibition he had his Wallace. He wanted passionately to be indistinguishable on the surface from other men: he wore his moustache like a club tie--it was his highest common factor, but his eyes betrayed him--brown dog's eyes, a setter's eyes, pointing mournfully towards Bond Street." (12)

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, certainly no shrinking violet. But what a mustache! From  here .

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, certainly no shrinking violet. But what a mustache! From here.

Greene, Graham. The Heart of the Matter. Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1962 [1948].

That passionate interest is so far from what I am interested in personally that I can't understand it, but it's such a wonderful description of this character. What kind of mustache does he have, what "club" does he belong to? What is a nondescript mustache in British West Africa in the 1940s?

Yellow Laces

"Jag virade halsduken om halsen och knäppte den blå lotsjackan som jag köpte på rea förra våren på Paul Smith i Stockholm, drog på mig mössan från samma ställe, böjde mig ner över högen av skodon i hörnet, hittade mina, ett par svarta Wranglerskor med gula snören som jag hade köpt i Köpenhamn när jag var på bokmässan där, och aldrig hade gillat, inte ens när jag köpte dem, och som nu dessutom hade fått en missfärgning av tanken på hur katastrofalt dåligt det hade gått för mig där, helt oförmögen att svara intelligent på en enda av all frågor som den entusiastiska och insiktsfulla intervjuaren ställde till mig på scenen. Att jag inte för länge sedan hade slängt dem berodde uteslutande på att vi hade så ont om pengar. Och så gula snören!" (92)

I wrapped the scarf around my neck and buttoned the blue peacoat I bought on sale last spring at Paul Smith in Stockholm, pulled on the hat from the same, bent over the pile of shoes in the corner, found mine, a pair of black Wrangler shoes with yellow laces that I had bought in Copenhagen when I was at the book fair there, and had never liked, not even when I bought them, and which furthermore had been colored by the thought of how catastrophically badly it went for me there, totally unprepared to answer intelligently even one of the questions the enthusiastic and insightful interviewers asked on stage. That I hadn't thrown them away ages ago depended completely on how short we were on money. And those yellow laces!°

 

Knausgaard, Karl Ove. Min kamp 2. Stockholm: Pocketförlag/excess*, 2009.

 

A shoelace is never just a shoelace. Or is it?

 

°my translation of the Swedish translation from the Norwegian. See another here.