Monday, February 02, 2009

One for the Road

I had been browsing in a Christiansted bookstore, half-heartedly looking for a book to read on a seven hour flight home. The usual suspects were there: light fiction, mysteries; Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys was highly recommended by the clerk. I looked through about a thirty titles and nothing seized me with a passion. Most modern writing seems a bit flat; as if writing schools and marketing have conspired to produce a competent but bloodless product. I finally figured out what my real problem was.

My vacation book on the way down was a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short fiction. These stories, if sometimes a bit dated, were unfair competition for the "light reads." There were enough stories remaining that I hadn't read yet so I left the shop empty-handed...

Outside the window the blue sirocco trembled over the wheat, and girls
with yellow hair walked sensuously along roads that bounded the fields,
calling innocent, exciting things to the young men who were working in
the lines between the grain. Legs were shaped under starchless gingham,
and rims of the necks of dresses were warm and damp. For five hours now
hot fertile life had burned in the afternoon. It would be night in three hours,
and all along the land there would be these blonde Northern girls and the
tall young men from the farms lying out beside the wheat, under the moon.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald,  Absolution,  1924

By Professor Batty


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