Saturday, 16 December 2017

ESPRESSO SHOT NO 66, by Anthony Sides

A hand picking up a martini glass from above, in the stiff fingers a cigarette slanted like the cocktail stick in the glass and spilling smoke in to the air, the smoke spills up in soft Ws.
     Smells. Tastes. A person. Exchanges and structured interactions: a participation in society.
     The cigarette, perfume and lipstick of the person, and their laugh and life and what they like and don't, and their stories and a thumbnail-to-the-lip gesture as interesting and integral to the evening as the music you've stopped noticing you're listening to; as the desire; and each deep or tiny line on the person's thumbs and palms and lips; their voice, and  their hair's texture, stiff from a salon treatment; the wavelength on which they vibrate;  the scuff of bare feet on carpet, dirt under the skin of the soles. The absence when they go away in to the toilet or the kitchen, what aspects of you rise to the surface inside or you groyne to fit more with the other person's currents. White court shoes on the floor,Timpson inside, one left on its side, and the scuffed place on the sole.
     Clink of bracelets, stretch and flop of a black sweater arm, shape and movement of shoulder blades, straps stretching and returning, fabric dragged off, armpit a pocket of the day's sweat; pulse of wrist and watch, blue veins, temperatures of skin, sun marks and strap lines. The person letting you near. Laughing and going back to jokes; martini kisses. Away from language, to instinct and habitual technique, and skin, and skin, and whispered breaths; shut behind your eyelids, rolling, contracting, and flow. Surges, cloudy water, weight, tides changing shorelines at night, bump and slap. 
     Evenings crammed with details, but one offs: unpotentialled. Next day, doubting an evening now your brain chemistry's different, pheromones at slack tide. Driving, alone, in the afternoon, supermarket carrier bags of ready meals and wine bottles on the back seat, her blonde hair tied back, fluttering, sunglasses, wondering if it was less than it felt like at the time; cloud-sifted sun on the grey plastic dashboard; round the arches of the amusement arcades, coloured bulbs flashing palely. She stops, looks around, flicks the signal and turns left.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Helen Dunmore's YOUR BLUE-EYED BOY

Helen Dunmore's 1998 relationship noir is about hidden thoughts behind family interactions, set in an extraordinary seascape. You can feel the pebble beaches and see the films of haze and light overlap, while the tides tell the time. It's a novel you keep plucking at - one more chapter - and it's trance-like, like the days when you've had no sleep and feel dopy and detached - slow and trapped. The people are ordinary, irritating, frightened and yearning. Some of them mean well.