19 February 2011

Weekend Reading List

I wish Alan Hollinghurst would hurry up and bring out his new book The Stranger's Child. I can't wait for this to come out later this year (September). He's one of those gay writers who are real writers (please contrast and compare with mawkishly gay works of Paul Monette and I don't like Michael Cunningham either), if you know what I mean. I love Hollinghurst's books. Right now, I'm reading The Spell (1988) all over again, and loving it afresh. This paperback has followed me on quite a few trips around the world, and the pages are now tea coloured, but the language is still crisp and fresh and considered. I especially like the (anachronistic) fascination with house music and drugs, which reminds me of my own clumsy experiments so long ago. I still had my big monster Mac desktop computer then (it took up most of the rosewood 1950s desk), and I had just discovered online chatting.To counter all the (rubbish) reading I'm doing about the dreadful new round of fall shows, I've turned to The Illiad (Translated by Robert Fagles). This version comes highly recommended by Uncle C as being the definitive translation; He should know, he's an academic. If you're disenchanted by all else, pick this up. Do not go and get a tattoo or pierce your ear, or whatever people do when they get bored. I saw a fat lesbian who peirced the tip of her ear in the lift today; she wore a black stud, and ill-fitting cargo berms, and I felt like leaving the lift. I don't know what it is about lesbians who like to make themselves just as disagreeably ugly as they can. I don't see the point, do you? (The painting is my Illiad crush, Patroclus, painted by Jacques Louis David in 1780; Don't even ask me why I picked Patroclus.)
I'm never ever bored.
Last Friday, after a client meeting (I grinned and nodded for 40 minutes; My jaw ached, and I'd gone partially blind from blanking out behind my interested stare), I went to Chanel and smelled a lot of perfumes from those marvellous white ceramic blotters, and talked to Ms Loy about perfumes for an hour or so. Chanel doesn't use paper blotters - they are so classy that they use these white ceramic tubes that are fitted into a tabletop and you just pick each stick up and sniff at it. Very civilized. We sniffed and talked, sniffed and talked. I went away with a new fascination for Coco eau de parfum (1984), as they haven't added to thier Les Exclusif line after Beige.
I went home and climbed on a teak stool in the bathroom, and shifted three shelves of perfumes around untill I found my bottle of Coco. I also found the matching body cream, and a bar of Sisley bath soap. I put some perfume on while still atop the stool, got down, teased out the Luca Turin perfume guide, and read all about Coco. That night, I went to bed smelling of Coco, and read all the magazines (Vogue, Man About Town, etc) which I dragged home from the office, and fell asleep at 11.You see, I didn't rush out to get an extreme hair cut or tattoo, or pierce my ears so that I can look disagreeable, or wear hideous cargo berms with hideous new trainers.
I have a closet full of perfume.
I have friends who are interesting to talk to.
I have a bed with lovely grey Egyptian cotton sheets and candles from Laduree.
I read.


  1. what a coincidence you are reading The Iliad. I am marking essays written about a poem by Michael Longley called "Ceasefire" which borrows from The Iliad. Jacq.

  2. Dear Jacq: It's so different from what I'm inundated with that I find it restores all my faith in reading and the word. I shall look up the poem you're working on.

  3. Dear DG

    now, abt Hollinghurst and The Spell. just to make sure that i was remembering the correct book, i went to Wiki & found this hilarious one-line plot introduction:

    A civil servant falls for a younger man and thereby discovers Ecstasy.[1]


    Succinct, if somewhat reductionistic; and also misses the other half of the book abt the hunky architect daddy whom, for some reason, i always find rather unsettling & disturbing.

    and i so agree with you re: Monette & Cunningham. and let us not forget the two David's: Leavitt & Sedaris. they are all so painfully white gayAmerican middle-class bourgeois. OY.


  4. Dear EA: That's the one, and that's hardly what the thing is about. Total agreement on David Leavitt and Sedaris. The latter I've tried and failed to read several times - i think the shorter pieces in The New Yorker is as much as I can bear from from such a thin talent.