Monday, 3 February 2020


Two books, published a generation apart, and two ways of saying that you have hit rock-bottom.

Andrzej Szczypiorski, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman (1988):

It seemed to her sometimes, to her own surprise, that she had within herself a strange instrument that somehow resonated improperly, like a cracked fiddle…She was an old lonely Jewish woman on the streets of Paris, for whom the thought of Poland was like a wad in her throat, like a gag. She told herself sometimes: I am unfair…But why should I be fair? People have a right to be unfair when God afflicts them with misfortune.

Halle Butler, The New Me (2019)

One sign that she has is down and out:

She no longer enjoys being with her best friend. I’m finding it hard to conjure social excitement…I think, Oh whatever, as loud as I can, three times, and shake my head and shoulders.

Another sign:

She is watching old movies. There was no room for new information in her mind…She didn’t’ laugh at a joke in the movie, even though she acknowledged that it was conceptually funny.

The ultimate sign:

Her mother no longer asks her to phone home. She doesn’t exactly hang up on her, but she tells me that that’s kind of enough for her tonight, and I silently commend her for her honesty.