Sunday, March 11, 2007

The horror and the herring

This weekend I finished reading The Exquisite, by Laird Hunt. Trippy. That's pretty much all I can say. Trippy.

Here's a little (not-particularly-trippy) taste:

Mr Kindt loved a good cigar, and he would always, with impeccable courtesy, offer me one. Dutch Masters was the brand he preferred, and he didn't mind if I chuckled about it like it was a joke. In fact, as we have seen, not only did he like for me to laugh about things, he insisted I do so. You have such a very pleasant laugh, it's so rich and hearty, I find it invigorating, he would say. He was just about as quick with a compliment as he was with a cigar. Apparently I had nice manners and nice features and "fine, strong shoulders" and a nice way of holding a plastic-tipped Premium. Generally, if I was smoking alone, I smoked Merits, but in Mr Kindt's company it was cigars. Mr Kindt thought very little indeed of cigarettes, "those miniature albino cigar," "those blatant disease-carrying delivery systems for brand names." There was no reason whatsoever, he said, to suck smoke all the way down into the lungs, which was the custom with cigarettes. The mouth, which held the tongue and the mechanisms of taste, was the appropriate receptacle. Its highly permeable membranes eagerly invited tobacco's active compounds to enter the "inward-leading complex" of blood vessels they played hos to. And of course, he added, cigars tasted much better. I wasn't at all sure about this last point, especially when it came to Dutch Masters, but I didn't argue. I didn't argue either when Mr Kindt would talk, with a funny little smile on his lips, about how pleasant it would be to die, if one had to, by having one's throat annihilated by cancer, or lungs filled with fragrant tar. When one is in the early, enthusiastic throes of a friendship, one lets a great deal slide.

The whole book feels like a David Lynch movie (but only Dune, with its spice-blue eyes, is referenced explicitly). I like the vagueness of the reference to the horrors downtown (9/11), how it helps impart a sense of (and a sense behind) the danse macabre nihilistic decadence that takes hold of this odd assemblage of characters.

The review that made me pick up The Exquisite, followed by an interview.


Laird Hunt said...

Or is it the herring and the horror...

Many thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Just a heads up. I would have emailed, but Yahoo is giving me a headache.