“Irving, add water, we’ll make a man.”

September 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

He loved the shop, the smells of the naphthas and benzenes, the ammonias, all the alkalis and fats, all the solvents and gritty lavas, the silken detergents and ultimate soaps, like the smells, he decided of flesh itself, of release, the disparate chemistries of pore and sweat — a sweat shop — the strange wooly-smelling acids that collected in armpits and atmosphered pubic hair, the flameless combustion of urine and gabardine mixing together to create all the body’s petty suggestive alimentary toxins. The sexuality of it. The men’s garments one kind, the women’s another, confused, deflected, masked by residual powders, by the oily invisible resins of deodorant and perfume, by the concoted flower and the imagined fruit — by all fabricated flavor. And hanging in the air, too — where would they go? — dirty, the thin, exiguous human clays, divots, ash and soils, dust devils of being.

“Irving, add water, we’ll make a man.”

— Stanley Elkin, The Franchiser

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