26 September 2009

horizontal and vertical

I finished The Great Gatsby this morning. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, and I was touched by the tragic longing for that which is past. I can relate. No sense analyzing it, though, because I'm sure there is enough of that out there.

I did love the language. It is the combination of image and language that I find most appealing, carries more weight. Horizontal and vertical, terms from Stevan and Joanna. Scene plus introspection or assessment. My favorite pieces are like that. Here's some of my personal favorites:

When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour before we melted indistinguishably into it again. [p 184]

If that was true, he must have felt like he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. [p 169]

The track curved and now it was going away from the sun which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. [p 160]

And finally, one of my most favorite:

I tried to think about Gatsby then for a moment, but he was already too far away and I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn't sent a message or a flower. Dimly I heard someone murmur, "Blessed are the dead that the rain falls on," and then the owl-eyed man said, "Amen to that," in a brave voice. [p 183]

Here's one from the Wildish Boys:

We walked together on the wide, cement sidewalk in the fading light, the street going on down the hill to the freeway ramp and Lake Washington. As far as you could see out past the unnatural squared off building tops of north Seattle, there was a fading pink above the Olympics, the reflection of light and water, and over Mercer Island, a glittering line of headlights cut through the black trees and the regular lives of other people that we could almost imagine were just like us.

Need a new book to read now. Suggestions?


1 comment:

  1. I Am Vertical - A poem by Sylvia Plath - American Poems

    This is the perfect follow-up, thanks to my friend, Nathan Metcalfe, who posted this on my FB page. Thanks, Nathan!