gourmet rhapsody-muriel barbery

i’m surprisingly comfortable with the fact that i’m literally still stepping on broken glass in my apartment. it reminds me of when i moved across the country and packed my picture frames in my suitcase and everything shattered inside. i just fished out the photos, zipped the pouch back up and wrote broken glass with a sharpie across it. i guess we all have different fears. this book (and season one of treme) represents my return to multiple library materials (though they’ve kind of been pussy-footing around telling me that they miss those other hands that carried them this week). all of my waking moments have been spent with this brilliant piece from the author that i’m ecstatic to revisit. *i am officially planting the seed to peep barbery’s work in french.

“To hell with them, those pinky bourgeois, they want their cake and they want to eat it too, they want their season ticket to the Chatelet and want to see the down-and-outs rescued from poverty, they want their tea at Mariage’s and all men on earth to be equal, they want their vacation in Tuscany and to see the sidewalks swept clean of anything that might stimulate their guilt, they want to pay their cleaning lady off the books and they want you to listen to their altruistic I’m-a-defender-of-humanity tirades. The State, the State! They’re like illiterate folk who adore the king and accuse only the evil corrupt ministers of all the ills they’re subject to; it’s the Godfather saying to his minions, “I don’t like the look of this guy,” without acknowledging that what he has just ordered in a veiled sort of way is the man’s execution; it’s the bullied sons or daughters who insult the social worker asking for explanations from unworthy parents! The State! It’s only fair to go after the State when you want to blame someone else, even if that someone else is none other than your own self!” (84)

see? now what would you do with a don cherry bobblehead doll?



2 thoughts on “gourmet rhapsody-muriel barbery

  1. sometimes i feel…:

    “Why?” he pursued, his tone increasingly dry, but I could see that in the depth of his eyes, which were actually inspecting me for the first time in years, there was a new spark, something I had never seen, like a little speck of caution and hope, inconceivable, harrowing and paralyzing, because for so long I had been accustomed to his not expecting a thing from me.
    “Because it’s good?” I ventured, hunching my shoulders.
    I had lost. How many times since thing have I relived in my mind-and in images-this wrenching episode, the moment when something could have shifted, when the bleakness of my fatherless childhood might have been transformed into a new and brilliant love…As if in slow motion, against the painful backdrop of my disappointed desire, the seconds tick by; the question, the answer, the waiting, and then the annihilation. The gleam in his eyes is extinguished as quickly as it flared. Disgusted, he turns away, pays, and I am once again relegated to the solitary confinement of his indifference.” (30-1)

    “…No. I won’t go. I’ve already mourned the father I didn’t have.” (31)

    “I was, however, already aware that we children were being pampered, albeit in an intelligent way that still astonishes me, for I only ever knew how to spoil my own children-spoil in the strictest sense of the term. I caused them to rot and decompose, those three children who emerged from my wife’s entrails, gifts I had negligently given to her in exchange for her decorative wifely abnegation-terrible gifts, when I think about it today, for what are children other than the monstrous excrescences of our own selves, pitiful substitutes for our unfulfilled desires? For the likes of me-people, in other words, who already have something which gives them pleasure in life-children are worthy of interest only when they finally leave home and become something other than one’s own daughters or sons. I do not love them. I have never loved them, and I feel no remorse on that account. If they expend all their energy hating me with all their strength, that is no concern of mine; the only paternity that I might lay claim to is that of my own oeuvre. And the buried flavor that I cannot find is beginning to make me doubt even that.” (47-8)

    “Now he wouldn’t be like that with his wife. He likes people like us, Monsieur does, he prefers us, you can tell. I think he feels more at ease with us than with all those upper crust sorts he hangs around with: you can tell he’s glad he can please them and impress them, stuff them full of food and watch them listening to him, but he doesn’t like them; it’s not his world.” (67)

  2. food for thought:

    “…but never again have I sampled as fervently (I am the specialist of such oxymorons)…” (23)

    “The food was simple and delicious, but what I really devoured-to the point of relegating oysters, ham, asparagus and chicken to the rank of secondary accompaniments-was the truculence of my hosts’ language: the syntax may have been brutally sloppy, but it was oh so warm in its juvenile authenticity. I feasted on their words, yes, the words flowing at that get-together of country brothers, the sort of words that, at times, delight one much more than the pleasures of the flesh. Words: repositories for singular realities which they then transform into moments in an anthology, magicians that change the face of reality by adorning it with the right to become memorable, to be placed in a library of memories. Life exists only by virtue of the osmosis of words and facts, where the former encase the latter in ceremonial dress. Thus, the words of my chance acquaintances, crowning the meal with an unprecedented grace, had almost formed the substance of my feast in spite of myself, and what I had enjoyed so merrily was the verb, not the meat.” (99)

    “…for critics and chefs are like dishrags and napkins: they complement each other, spend time together, work together, but in their hearts of hearts, they do not like one another.” (144)

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