Thursday, August 15, 2013
That evening I was the sole guest in the huge dining room, and it was the same startled person who took my order and shortly afterwards brought me a fish that had doubtless lain entombed in the deep-freeze for years. The breadcrumb armour-plating of the fish had been partly singed by the grill, and the prongs of my fork bent on it. Indeed it was so difficult to penetrate what eventually proved to be nothing but an empty shell that my plate was a hideous mess once the operation was over. The tartare sauce that I had to squeeze out of a plastic sachet was turned grey by the sooty breadcrumbs, and the fish itself, or what feigned to be the dish, lay a sorry wreck among the grass-green peas and the remains of soggy chips that gleamed with fat. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
Friday, December 28, 2012

the glaucous arcs of lipidy chips

On many a morning, in green Scottish places splashed with rain, Chip felt close to escaping this spurious bind and regaining a sense of self and purpose, only to find himself at four in the afternoon drinking beer at a train station, eating chips and mayonnaise, and hitting on Yankee college girls. As a seducer, he was hampered by ambivalence and by his lack of the Glaswegian accent that made American girls go weak in the knees. He scored exactly once, with a young hippie from Oregon who had ketchup stains on her chemise and a scalpy smell so overpowering that he spent much of the night breathing through his mouth.

His failures seemed more funny than squalid, though, when he came home to Connecticut and regaled his misfit friends with stories at his own expense. He wondered if somehow his Scottish depression had been the product of a greasy diet. His stomach heaved when he remembered the glistening wedges of browned whatever fish, the glaucous arcs of lipidy chips, the smell of scalp and deep-fry, or even just the words “Firth of Forth.”

—Franzen

Monday, August 6, 2012

wash me as white as the sole I ate last night

In a day we pass from the Northern Lights
to doomsday dawns.  Crowds crush to work at eight,
and walk with less cohesion than the mist;
the sky, without malice, is acid, Christmas lights
are needed to reveal the Thames. God sees —
wash me as white as the sole I ate last night,
acre of whiteness, back of Folkestone sand,
cooked and skinned and white — the heart appeased.
Soles live in depth, see not, spend not … eat;
their souls are camouflaged to die in dishes,
flat on their backs, the posture of forgiveness —
squinch-eyes, bubbles of bloodshot worldliness,
unable ever to turn the other cheek —
at sea, they bite like fleas whatever we toss.
 
—Robert Lowell: “Flounder,” from The Dolphin. [Cf this flatte flounder]
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I stood by for a good while in the empty lobby, and wandered through the public rooms, which were completely deserted even at the height of the season - if one can speak of a season in Lowestoft - before I happened upon a startled young woman, who after hunting pointlessly through the register on the reception desk, handed me a huge room key attached to a wooden pear. I noticed that she was dressed in the style of the Thirties and that she avoided eye contact; either her gaze remained fixed on the floor or she stared right through me as if I were not there. That evening, I was the sole guest in the huge dining room, and it was the same startled person who took my order and shortly afterwards brought me a fish that had doubtless lain emtombed in the deep-freeze for years. The breadcrumb armor-plating of the fish had been partly singed by the grill, and the prongs of my fork bent on it. Indeed it was so difficult to penetrate what eventually proved to be nothing but an empty shell that my plate was a hideous mess once the operation was over. The tartare sauce that I had to squeeze out of a plastic sachet was turned grey by the sooty breadcrumbs, and the fish itself, or what feigned to be fish, lay a sorry wreck among the grass-green peas and the remains of soggy chips that gleamed with fat. I no longer recall how long I sat in that dining room with its gaudy wallpaper before the nervous young woman, who evidently did all the work in the establishment single-handed, scurried out from the thickening shadows in the background to clear the table. Sebald, Rings of Saturn [for thickening shadows cf. “luminous congelation of shadow" in Proust]
Saturday, March 3, 2012
It is useless not to seek, not to want, for when you cease to seek you start to find, and when you cease to want, then life begins to ram her fish and chips down your gullet until you puke, and then the puke down your gullet until you puke the puke, and then the puked puke until you begin to like it. Beckett, Watt