Sunday, December 16, 2012

Now you tell me...

"It's tempting to give up on our liberal studies before even making the attempt, the better to continue on our merry way, fighting, drinking, and all the rest. At least, then we we have the satisfaction of a little short-term pleasure instead of a lifetime of feeling inadequate."

-- Zadie Smith, "Some Notes on Attunement," "The New Yorker," December 17, 2012, 30-35.

More excellent Smith here. I've been shying away from this writer for years, fearing either the Second Coming of Rushdie (Multi-Culti Magic Realism) or a new addition to the Hitchens/Amis Patronizing Smarty Pants School. But I've loved a couple of her recent essays.
My other source of daily pleasure is—but I wish I had a better way of putting it—”other people’s faces.” A red-headed girl, with a marvelous large nose she probably hates, and green eyes and that sun-shy complexion composed more of freckles than skin. Or a heavyset grown man, smoking a cigarette in the rain, with a soggy mustache, above which, a surprise—the keen eyes, snub nose, and cherub mouth of his own eight-year-old self.
As a paragraph written by a novelist this is promising. Last week I dug out the copy of "White Teeth" I've owned for something like fifteen years. Any day now...