Monday, June 25, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The sight of the table, when at length we filed into the dining room, sent a chill through me. It was a meal for the very young or the very hungry. The uncompromising coldness and solidity of the viands was enough to appall a man conscious that his digestion needed humouring. A huge cheese faced us in an almost swashbuckling way. I do not know how else to describe it. It wore a blatant, rakish, nemo-me-impune-lacessit air, and I noticed that the professor shivered slightly as he saw it. Sardines, looking more oily and uninviting than anything I had ever seen, appeared in their native tin beyond the loaf of bread. There was a ham, in its third quarter, and a chicken which had suffered heavily during a previous visit to the table. Finally, a black bottle of whisky stood grimly beside Ukridge’s plate.
Wodehouse, Love among the chickens
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Nipples and grease
The truth is I can’t even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won’t forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.
— Jack Gilbert, “Duende”. This is from a Dwight Garner review of his Collected which also says:
Mr. Gilbert is a virtuoso poet of the appetites. “We end up asking what our lives really tasted like,” he observes, and in his poems we find hot bowls of tripe and sardine sandwiches and lentils and cheese and tomatoes and bread and whole hogs on spits. In a poem called “Getting Away with It” he recalls: “Me eating the hot wurst I couldn’t afford,/in frozen Munich, tears dropping.”
(Here are the hot bowls of tripe. All the descriptions I can find in the CP are perfunctory and this doesn’t seem like a lead esp. worth following up on. As usual, Dwight garners the best passages…)
No other major American poet deploys the word “nipples” as often as Mr. Gilbert does.
“I don’t hang out,” he said in a 2005 Paris Review interview. He frequently sounded cranky and goatish in that Q. and A., but perhaps he’s allowed. He was 80 then, and 87 now.
The food, also, was partaken of gingerly: pieces of meat were picked up between finger and thumb and held aloft like live worms before being quickly dispatched; offending portions of salad and cheese were disgustedly spat out on the grass; water biscuits, apples, celery and radishes enjoyed fair popularity, but little truck was had with such greasy and malodorous dishes as sardines, liver sausage, and anchovies. The company snorted when bananas were mentioned and actually gagged in unison when boiled eggs were produced (“No,” said Celia, putting them away, “perhaps that wasn’t a good idea”).
M. Amis, Dead Babies. (This brings up another passage, in K. Amis’s The Old Devils, but I can only get the following snippet online: “Also on view were bowls of unadventurous salad and, more to the purpose, an array of pickled onions in three colours, pickled walnuts, pickled gherkins in two sizes, pickled beetroot, four kinds of chutney, three kinds of mustard…”)