Thursday, March 5, 2009

Number Fifty-Eight

"He’s sitting there just as I remembered him, next to the neat little marble-topped table, with its prim lamp in gilt bronze mounted by simple white shade, and behind him a painting that might be by Kenneth Noland but is hard to identify in the tightly held shot that frames him. His face is much the same, flabby and slack, although time has pinched it sadistically, and reddened it. Whenever I would try to picture that face, my memory would produce two seemingly mismatched fragments: the domed shape of the head, bald, rigid, unforgiving; and the flaccid quality of the mouth and lips, which I remember as always slightly ajar, in the logically impossible gesture of both relaxing and grinning. Looking at him now I search for the same effect. As always I am held by the arrogance of the mouth–fleshy, toothy, aggressive–and its pronouncements, which though voiced in a kind of hesitant, stumbling drawl are, as always, implacably final."

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