Monday 26 September 2016

#AMREADING The Evening Telegram of 9 November 1939.

McLaughlin-Buick 1939
I’ve moved into an old house that has recently been renovated. Among the debris cleared by the renovators was a pile of yellowing Toronto newspapers from 1939. Page One was all about the “Huns” threatening to invade the Netherlands, and we know how that scenario unfolded. It’s history written large. The back pages of the paper contain the small stuff, the microhistory of Toronto. Can we draw any conclusions about the city from the Classifieds? For one thing I’d say the inhabitants were tired. There are a number of ads promising to perk them up:
Wake up singing! When you awaken with a “dragged-out” feeling, take Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery, and according to the testimonials, you will feel as good as ever before.
But maybe you want to feel even better than before. Then we suggest you take
Scott’s emulsion, a valuable tonic for run-down condition. The illustration accompanying the ad features a man dragging a large fish. Go figure.
Perhaps you feel alright, and it’s your car that needs perking up. In that case you’ll be glad to hear of the new miracle of gasoline chemistry, New-Blue Sunoco, which will provide you with knockless power and sure-fire quick starting.   
But if the miracle of gasoline chemistry isn’t doing enough for your car, go out and buy a Buick. You’ll get a big, beautiful, brawny car styled to knock your eye out!

Knock my eye out?? Clearly, cars have become a lot tamer since 1939, and that’s fine with me. 

Monday 19 September 2016

#AMREADING Michel Houellebecq, Submission. Or What Men Think of Women.

Paris 2022. The Muslim Brotherhood has won the national elections by a landslide. Is this a futuristic novel? Not sure. Human relations seem as complex as ever. Plus ça change, I suppose. Here are some musings on sex by the novel’s protagonist , François, a middle-aged lecturer at the Sorbonne.

For men, love is nothing more than gratitude for the gift of pleasure, and no one had ever given me more pleasure than Myriam. She could contract her pussy at will (sometimes softly, with a slow, irresistible pressure, sometimes in sharp, rebellious little tugs).

François suffers the same frustrations as Huysmans (the subject of his thesis) a century earlier: He wanted a good little cook who could also turn herself into a whore, and he wanted this on a fixed schedule. It didn’t’ seem so hard, yet he sought this woman in vain.

In my twenties, when I got hard-ons all the time, sometimes for no good reason, as though in a vacuum, I have gone for [a cougar]. It would have been more satisfying, and paid better, than my tutorials. Back then I think I could have performed.

In middle age, François’  body started to let him down. Old age, he feared, would be a jumble of organs in slow decomposition…When you got right down to it, my dick was the one organ that hadn’t presented itself to my consciousness through pain, only through pleasure. Modest but robust, it had always served me faithfully. In the end my dick was all I had.