Monday, December 18, 2006

Towards a Top Ten, Take Two

3. The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and other stories, by Suzanna Clarke

There were horned heads, antlered heads, heads carapiced like insects' heads, heads as puckered and soft as a mouldy orange; there were mouths pulled wide by tusks, mouths stretched out into trumpets, mouths that grinned, mouths that gaped, mouths that dribbled; there were bats' ears, cats' ears, rats' whiskers; there were ancient eyes in young faces, large, dewy eyes in old worn faces, there were eyes that winked and blinked in parts of the anatomy where I had never before expected to see any eyes at all. The goblins were lodged in every part of the house; there was scarcely a crack in the wainscotting which did not harbour a staring eye, scarcely a gap in the banisters without a nose or snout poking through it. They prodded us with their horny fingers, they pulled our hair and pinched us black and blue. Dido and I ran out of End-Of-All-Hope House, jumped up upon Quaker's back and rode away into the winter woods.

Snow fell thick and fast from the sea-green sky.

4. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party

A man in a topiary maze cannot judge of the twistings and turnings, and which avenuue might lead him to the heart; while one who stands above, on some pleasant prospect, looking down upon the labyrinth, is reduced to watching the bewildered circumnavigations of the tiny victim through obvious coils -- as the gods, perhaps, looked down on the besieged and blood-sprayed Troy from the saftey of their couches, and thought mortals weak and foolish while they themselves reclined in comfort, and had only to snap to call Ganymede to their side with nectar decanted.

So I, now, with the vantage of years, am sensible to my foolishness, my blindness, as a child. I cannot think of my blunders without a shriveling of the inward parts -- not merely the dessication attendant on shame, but also the aggravation of remorse that I did not demand more explanation, that I did not sooner take my mother by the hand, and --

I do not know what I regret. I sit with my pen, and cannot find an end to that sentence.

I do not know what we may do, to know another better.

No comments: