Thursday, November 14

The Spark-Studded Smoke

The grocer opposite had a little daughter whose shadow drove me mad; but with Valeria's help I did find after all some legal outlets to my fantastic predicament.  As to cooking, we tacitly dismissed the pot-au-feu and had most of our meals at a crowded place in rue Bonaparte where there were wine stains on the table cloth and a good deal of foreign babble.  And next door, an art dealer displayed in his cluttered window a splendid, flamboyant, green, red, golden and inky blue, ancient American estampe - a locomotive with a gigantic smokestack, great baroque lamps and a tremendous cowcatcher, hauling its mauve coaches through the stormy prairie night and mixing a lot of spark-studded black smoke with the furry thunder clouds.  

Vladimir Nabokov.  1955.  Lolita.  Penguin.  p 27

Tomorrow, much to my chagrin, I have to return Lolita to the library.  But the plan is to re-borrow it again next year for a re-trial, giving it all the time and attention it deserves.  

I couldn't return it without sharing this passage.  I guess in the grand scheme of the plot its an insignificant moment, but it's just so beautifully described that I swooned over it anyway.  The last sentence is my favourite, that heady image of spark-studded black smoke under furry thunder clouds. It's so sumptuous.  

Anyhow, tomorrow I will open the discussion on Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, the modern Australian classic.  It is bound to be a treat.  

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