In Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room, Liesel Landauer, disquieted by Viktor’s infidelity—and especially, I think, by her own reaction to the revelation—no one but Kata, the “other” woman, can comfort her. This is not the place to point out the irony of the situation—Mawer himself never focuses on it; perhaps the irony matters least. He just gives us an image: of Kata, so small and lithe and lush and curved, and so very young, holding her lover’s wife as the latter cried. Liesel, so tall and thin, her breasts too small, her legs far too ungainly. The smaller woman comforting the taller.
It was ridiculous really, Liesel thought. Height should give you some kind of defense, make you less vulnerable, make you able to control your life and your love and your destiny; but it doesn’t. A tall person in tears somehow seems, and feels ridiculous.
It’s true. How difficult it is too accept offered comfort from anyone who strained to reach past your shoulder. The effort to bend, to fold into yourself, to make yourself manageable, that you can be held.
Liesel’s plight will never not be relevant, no, Sash?
From Fair Play by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal.
“Mari,” said Jonna, “sometimes you’re really a little too obvious.”
“Do you think? But once in a while a person just needs to say what doesn’t need to be said. Don’t you think?”
And they went back to their reading.
From the ridiculously amazing introduction to Querida: An Anthology, edited by Caroline S. Hau, Katrina Tuvera, and Isabelita O. Reyes:
A querida is defined by what she does, and with whom. Her name in Spanish means “beloved,” and tells us something about the passion she kindles, the affection she commands. Some names show her in action: live-in, for example, and patiki, which alludes to “a sexual act where the female mimics the bird (like kingfisher) that feeds on fish.” Other labels such as kalunya (from the root word alunya, “illicit caress”) and kaapid (from apid, “illicit sexual intercourse”) are less about her as a person and more about the bounds—legal, moral, and social—that she transgresses. “Kabit” dates back to the 1970s and originally refers to buses or jeepneys that plied the streets illegally alongside legitimate franchises. Having an affair is commonly described in folksy, dated language such as paglalaro ng apoy (playing with fire), pamamangka sa dalawang ilog (rowing in two rivers), pagsusunog ng uling (burning charcoal), pangangaliwa (literally, turning or moving left), pangkukulasisi (keeping a parakeet in a cage), and pangtsitsiks (tsiks may either derive from the Spanish chica, “girl,” or the American slang “chick”), a sure sign that the act and the stock characters in the family drama have been with us for as long as we can remember.
From The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Monica Ragazzini, Portrait of Frida K. (2009)
It has been more difficult than usual to return to the world of the living this fine Monday. Tiny Beautiful Things has taken monopoly over all my brainhurts and black-hearthurts. [This, and Philip Pullman. Good lord, His Dark Materials is a relentless revelation. I can’t wait to calm down enough for the third book—then again, when that happens it’ll be over. Sigh of sighs.]
In his first field journal, John Muir listed his home address as “Earth, planet, Universe.”
19th century map of the moon.
Norman Rockwell - The Saturday Evening Post.
Then, without warning, we both straightened up, turned towards each other, and began to kiss. After that, it is difficult for me to speak of what happened. Such things have little to do with words, so little, in fact, that it seems almost pointless to try to express them. If anything, I would say we were falling into each other, that we were falling so fast and so far that nothing could catch us. Again, I lapse into metaphor. But that is probably beside the point. For whether or not I can talk about it does not change the truth of what happened. The fact is, there never was such a kiss, and in all my life I doubt there can ever be such a kiss again. — From The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.