February 9, 2010

I was not weak but the drink was strong

Felrath Hines, Escape

* The New Yorker recently published an excerpt from Roberto Bolano's 2666 as William Burns. excerpt:

It was a dreary time in my life. I was going through a rough patch at work. I was supremely bored, though up till then I’d always been immune to boredom. I was going out with two women. That I do remember clearly. One of them was getting on a bit—she must have been about my age—and the other wasn’t much more than a girl. Some days, though, they seemed like two ailing, crotchety old women, and other days like two little girls who just wanted to play. The age difference wasn’t so big that you’d mistake them for mother and daughter, but almost. Though that’s the kind of thing a man can only guess at; you never really know for sure. Anyway, these women had two dogs, a big one and a little one. And I never knew which dog belonged to which woman. They were sharing a house on the outskirts of a town in the mountains where people went for summer vacation. When I mentioned to someone, some friend or acquaintance, that I was going up there for the summer, he told me I should take my fishing rod. But I didn’t have a fishing rod. Someone else told me about the stores and the cabins, taking it easy, clearing the mind. But I wasn’t going there for a vacation; I was going to take care of the women. Why did they ask me to take care of them? What they told me was that some guy was out to harm them. They called him the killer. When I asked what his motive was, they didn’t have an answer, or maybe they preferred to keep me in the dark. So I tried to work it out for myself. They were afraid, they believed they were in danger, though maybe it was all a false alarm. But why should I tell people what to think, especially when they’ve hired me? Anyway, I reckoned that after a week or so they’d come around to my point of view. So I went up into the mountains with them and their dogs, and we moved into a little stone-and-timber house full of windows, more windows than I think I’ve ever seen in one house, all different sizes and scattered haphazardly. From the outside, the windows gave you the impression that the house had three floors, but in fact there were only two. Inside, especially in the living room and some of the bedrooms on the first floor, they produced a dizzying, exhilarating, maddening effect. In the bedroom I was given there were only two windows, both quite small, one above the other, the top one almost reaching the ceiling, the lower one just over a foot from the floor. All the same, life up there was pleasant. The older woman wrote every morning, but she didn’t shut herself away, the way they say writers usually do; she set up her laptop on the living-room table. The younger woman spent her time gardening or playing with the dogs or talking with me. I did most of the cooking, and although I’m not an expert the women praised the meals I prepared. I could have gone on living like that for the rest of my life. But one day the dogs ran away and I went out to look for them. I remember searching through a wood nearby, armed only with a flashlight, and peering into the yards of empty houses. I couldn’t find them anywhere.

* Threats made against former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly during the 88-89 season.

* "A drug is neither moral nor immoral -- it's a chemical compound. The compound itself is not a menace to society until a human being treats it as if consumption bestowed a temporary license to act like an asshole. -- Frank Zappa


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