#AMREADING Herman Koch, The Dinner. The chasm between the dish and its price.
At the restaurant.
- The menu: I was amazed at the yawning chasm between the dish itself and the price you have to pay for it.
- The head waiter: He stuck out his little finger and pointed at something on the table: These are Greek olives from the Peloponnese, lightly doused in first-pressing, extra-virgin olive oil from Sardinia, and polished off with rosemary…Polished off? I said.
- The main dish: What struck me about the plate was its vast emptiness. There are voids and then there are voids. The void here had clearly been raised to a matter of principle.
- The narrator: For a while he had taken tranquillizers. Life was more constant, more muted, but something was missing. It was like the loss of smell or taste. I looked at life like a warm meal I had to eat or else I would die, but I had lost my appetite.
- The conversation. Playing around her lips was something outsiders would not have recognized as a smile, but which was in fact a smile…quivering at the corners of her mouth, invisible to the naked eye.
- The men’s room. At the stainless steel peeing wall stood a man with a big cock of the shameless variety, with thick blue veins right below the surface of darkish gray skin that was ruddily healthy yet still rather rough.
- People who don't use deodorants. There was an odor about him. Maybe he didn’t use deodorant, in order to spare the ozone layer, or else his wife washed his clothes in environmentally friendly detergent. As everyone knows, detergents like that turn white clothes gray after a while – clean is one thing they will never be again.