Tuesday, January 14, 2014
HENRY MILLER, IN NSW
The ‘city centre’ of Bateman’s Bay is one of your regular coastal shopping areas. Seafood places, and malls, and Coffee Club shops and newsagents and post office, and arcades full of beauty treatment places, a Rivers shop, Smiggles, chemists galore and lots of hotel places situated right on top of the bay for a pretty penny. It was depressingly hot walking in, but coming back there was a really nice bay breeze. The tops of the masts of the boats marooned on the water bobbled around a bit. I read The Sydney Morning Herald and it was just like reading The Age. The Sydney stories didn’t interest me much.
I am reading some Henry Miller for the first time. His first novel, Tropic of Cancer. It’s overly long and rambling and I can’t be too bothered with some of it, and parts of it are a bit like if D H Lawrence had’ve lived another ten years or so, except in most places it isn’t very lyrical. A lot of sex which gets tiring after a while, but some really beautiful and well written passages too. In case you don’t know it, it is all about his madman experiences of being young in the 30’s in Paris, very Holden Caulfield-like, but with lots of stream of consciousness added, a cross therefore between Salinger and Joyce is how I would put it (perhaps with a pinch of Dickens thrown in).
“ The windows of my hotel are festering and there is a thick, acrid stench as of chemicals burning. Looking into the Seine I see mud and desolation, street lamps drowning, men and women choking to death, the bridges covered with houses, slaughterhouses of love. A man is standing against the wall with an accordion strapped to his belly; his hands are cut off at the wrists, but the accordion writhes between his stumps like a sack of snakes. The universe has dwindled; it is only a block long and there are no stars, no trees, no rivers. The people who live here are dead; they make chairs which other people sit on in their dreams. In the middle of the street is a wheel and in the hub of the wheel a gallows is fixed. People already are trying frantically to mount the gallows, but the wheel is turning too fast…”