Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pellets From a Small Fierce Animal

Don't worry! I am sticking with ABSALOM, ABSALOM! - just read a part when we go from the book's present to five months in the book's future to almost a hundred years in the book's past, all in a couple of sentences. William Faulkner! What a weirdo. You're going to give me whiplash, William Faulkner. Yes I am going to stick with ABSALOM, ABSALOM! but yesterday I stopped by Square Books to pick up my copy of ANCIENT EVENINGS by Norman Mailer and Laura Lippman's new novel and went up to the City Grocery Bar, where I arrived enough ahead of Megan Abbott, whom I was meeting there, to read well into Chapter Two of ANCIENT EVENINGS. The narrator has not eaten bat poop yet as I was promised, but it is "whispered" about another character, long dead, that he "had been known to eat fried scorpions with bat dung," which reminded me, as long as I was sitting in John Currence's place, that he was once required to fry a scorpion on TOP CHEF MASTERS... no, I think he grilled it. And I recall the judges saying something like, "I would go to a restaurant and order this scorpion!" Yet John has never put scorpion on any of his menus, as far as I know. On the first page of Chapter One of ANCIENT EVENINGS we already get "some aged droppings on the floor, pellets from a small fierce animal." A cat, it turns out! When Megan arrived (a copy of Laura Lippman's new novel AFTER I'M GONE tucked under her arm too) I read her the first two sentences of Chapter One of ANCIENT EVENINGS, which are short and to the point and pretty good, and she said, "It's like Poe!" I had been thinking Lovecraft, especially an early (?) story of his called "The Outsider," which come to think of it is closely modeled on Poe, but how could Megan sense it so quickly? It's because Megan knows everything. One paragraph in Chapter Two starts beautifully, I think: "I now met a ghost."