20 December 2008

Cutty, One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Genty Explained by August Kleinzahler

My friend Dustin lent me this one, and oh boy is it a treat. It's just gorgeous. I absolutely adored it. One could call it an autobiography, but I think the subtitle describes it best - it's about low characters and strange places. The book is a collection of short pieces, some about the author's family, some about his friends, some about his opinions. Kleinzahler's prose is wonderful, and there's this marvelous tenderness in the way he looks at the world. Which isn't to say it's sappy or touchy feely, or that he loves everyone and everything. I suppose here, again, the subtitle puts it best  - gently explained. There's a bracing honesty in the book, but also a sweet affection, and periodically a touch of disdain. It's somewhat reminiscent of Bukowski, but with more elegance and less misery. One of my favorite passages, on two young ladies eating fried chicken:

I love to watch a good-looking woman eat. Forgive me. It is, I think, not so much a salacious thing as an aesthetic one. It is, quite simply, one of the spectacles in this life that I hold dearest to my heart. I did not wonder if the batter was peppery or crisp, or if the meat was tender. I didn't speculate on whether their undergarments that day were sensible or naughty. I was transported by the way they worked over their respective drumsticks.

If that passage doesn't fill you with a love of life, then I honestly don't know what will. 

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