A Couple of Literary Notes

I’ve been doing a fair bit of recreational reading recently, what with being socially isolated and all (although with three kids, my wife, my mother-in-law, my homestay student, and my tenants in the basement all cooped up wit me, I sometimes wish my isolation could be a little more complete). As I’ve been reading, I’ve come across a few things that I don’t otherwise have a place for, so here they are –

1. In Adam Mars-Jones’ The Waters of Thirst, he includes the identical paragraph twice, in places that wouldn’t make the repetition obviously or even usefully stylistic. In my edition (Faber and Faber, 1993), the repeated section appears on pages 5 and 63, and it reads so: “Kids these days, with their Gore-Tex grafts and their high-flux machines. Two hours for dialysis! That’s not kidney failure. That’s a holiday.” What a strange bit to repeat if done so intentionally. What an obvious repetition to miss if done so inadvertently. Make of it what you can.

2. In John Berger’s Pig Earth, he includes this paragraph, which is ended by my new favourite phrase in the English language: “In the soup, made with parts of the salted backbone, were carrots, parsnips, leeks, turnips. The loaves were passed round and held against each chest in turn, as a slice was cut off. Then, spoons in hand, we entered the meal.” What a beautiful formulation! – “We entered the meal.” It says something perfect and otherwise indescribable about the shared meal. Amazing.

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