"Have you no other book?"
He opened No Orchids for Miss Blandish and read:
"It began on a summer morning in July. The sun up early in the morning mist, and the pavements already steaming a little from the heavy dew. The air in the streets was stale and lifeless. It had been an exhausting month of intense heat, rainless skies, and warm, dust-laden winds. Bailey walked into Minny’s hash-house, leaving Old Sam asleep in the Packard. Bailey was feeling lousy. Hard liquor and heat don’t mix. His mouth felt like a birdcage and his eyes were gritty…."
He read for a long time. Once or twice he asked, “Are you enjoying this?” and she said, “Go on.”
At last she interrupted with a harsh rattle of laughter. “Oh, yes, I like this book! Crazy hopes of a glamorous, rich, colourful life and then abduction, rape, slavery. That book, at least, is true.”
"It is not true. It is a male sex fantasy."
"And life for most women is just that, a performance in a male sex fantasy. The stupid ones don’t notice, they’ve been trained for it since they were babies, so they’re happy. And of course the writer of that book made things obvious by speeding them up. What happens to the Blandish girl in a few weeks takes a lifetime for the rest of us."
"I deny that," said Lanark fiercely. "I deny that life is more of a trap for women than men. I know that most women have to work at home because people grow in them, but working at home is more like freedom than working in offices and factories; furthermore—"
His voice raised an echo which competed with the words. To end the sentence audibly he began shouting and caused a deafening explosion which took minutes to fade. Afterward he sat scowling at the air before him until the voice said, “Just go on reading.”
despite all the lanark quotes today i forget all the time that it is possible to use words in a non-utilitarian way.
i am deaf to the beauty of words at this point. i understand most novels as delivery vehicles for sensation and drama, poetry as a statement of taste, and everything else is technical or persuasive writing with a clear aim. i have no taste. i dont understand art writing. i dont understand having fun with words. i dont understand using words to build extravagant, useless things. as dollar store gore vidal i cannot imagine a world without polemic or purpose.
and then some hollinghurst or grey comes along, some firbank, some mervyn peake, something extravagant in scope and beauty, something fine and strange, and i remember all over again that it is possible to invent.