“But her beauty remained”

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

But the small young naked woman? This childlike creature quite unaware of the dripping ruin which, behind her back, could only exaggerate her nakedness, her small size, her dripping skin? But even in the first glimpse he knew conclusively that she who was now splashing herself in the pleasure of natural privacy was the selfsame person whom he and Spapa had beaten into unconsciousness in La Violaine. He could not be mistaken: the very bruises that blurred his own elation in a flash of shame gave absolute identity to the young woman who had in fact survived the combat in the prison only to experience now that privilege of being herself in her skin. The black and blue welts were all too visible, the eye puffed shut gave him a stab of pain, in particulate he recoiled from a star-shaped bruise on the little haunch. She was disfigured, more so than he, and on her body bore the livid signs of his own righteousness. But her beauty remained: the freely hanging dark hair, the sun-darkened tan and pink complexion of the wet skin, the shocking symmetry of a body so small that in its childlike proportions it exceeded the beauty of the life-sized woman it was intended to represent: in all this his powers of recognition were even more confirmed than in the physical evidence of her injuries, the sight of which so offended, suddenly, his proud and sentimental eye.

— John Hawkes, The Passion Artist

And I knew at once that she was no more taken in by the weedy sanctity of the little church and mutilitated calvary that was I.

October 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

While I regret returning so soon to John Hawkes’ Travesty for my weekly recording, it is not a sorry regret. Much more, rather, a resigned regret. Doing so, in fact, was nearly unavoidable. I’d marked this passage a while back, and found myself, quite by accident, re-reading it again this evening. I simply could could not resist posting it.

I groaned, I tasted blood, I cowered

October 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

A few days away.

I’ve never actually blogged so consistently for so long. A few days, I think I can forgive myself that. Oh, but penance, always penance, recompense, if the economic language is preferred to ecclesial, is necessary. Thus: a perverse reading, though one with an adequate comeuppance, so bear with its initial violence, from John Hawkes’ delightful if disturbed novel, Travesty.

Bloodied without a wound in sight

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

“I’ve beat girls before,” whispering, holding the truncheon in the dark, bracing himself with one far hand against the wall, “and I don’t leave bruises. . . . And if I happened to be without my weapon . . . the next best thing is a newspaper rolled and soaking wet. But here, get the feel of it, Miss.” He reached down for her and she felt the truncheon nudging against her thigh, gently, like a man’s cane in a crowd.

“It ain’t so bad,” he whispered.

She was lying face up and hardly trembling, not offering to pull her leg away. The position she was tied in made her think of exercises she had heard were good for the figure. She smelled gun oil–the men who visited the room had guns–and a sour odor inside the mattress. . . . There was a shadow on the wall like a rocking chair; her fingers were going to sleep; she thought that a wet newspaper would be unbearable.

Then something happened to his face. . . .

His arm went up quivering, over his head with the truncheon falling back, and came down hard and solid as a length of cold fat stripped from a pig, and the truncheon beat into her just above the knee; then into the flesh of her mid-thigh; then on her hips; and on the tops of her legs. And each blow quicker and harder than the last, until the strokes went wild and he was aiming randomly at abdomen and loins, the thin fat and the flesh that was deeper, each time letting the rubber lie where it landed then drawing the length of it across stomach or pit of stomach or hip before raising it to the air once more and swinging it down. It made a sound like a dead bird falling to empty field. . . . When he finally stopped for good she was bleeding, but not from any wound she could see. (The Lime Twig)

Needless to say, I hope, John Hawkes has written here a terrifying & brutal scene. Is it confessing too much of myself to add, then, that he has done so beautifully? « Read the rest of this entry »

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