Saturday, February 17, 2007

There Is Never Any End To Paris

The final chapter. The last of so much and he breaks into a talent he never had before: poignancy. Twice.

1. I don't remember what stories I wrote there.

Understand this: the ECT lost that memory. Lonely, paranoid, depressed, his last bastion falls. He is scared in this passage. I am scared reading it. He looks scared in this picture. This is close to when he wrote it.

2. Then, instead of two of them and their child, there are three of them. First it is stimulating and fun and it goes on that way for a while. All things truly wicked start out from innocence. So you live day by day and enjoy what you have and do not worry. You lie and you hate it and it destroys you and every day is more dangerous, but you live day to day as in a war.

It was necessary that I leave Schruns and go to New York to rearrange publishers. I did my business in New York and when I got back to Paris I should have caught the first train from the Gare de l’Est that would take me down to Austria. But the girl I was in love with was in Paris then, and I did not take the first train, or the second or the third.

When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anybody else.

Ann said: I accidentally cried. I didn't mean to. I didn't want to.

I say this moment is breathtaking. And my favorite thing about it is the reader knows what’s coming, knows there will be a divorce and a second woman, but that knowing does nothing to shield him from the reality. Despite the lack of surprise, Hem found a way to recreate that scene with some of the power he felt in that moment, which is a stunning feat. This from a writer who always struggled with poignancy, who was rotten at it.

I didn't mean to. I didn't want to. It was an accident.

1 comment:

Radish King said...

Yes. He is never far, really, from my pen, no, he's a kind of ghost guide maybe. My grandfather used to hunt with him, sold him a truck in Ketchum.