TUESDAY 8TH OCTOBER 2013 – Bar Culture
‘How’s your book, doodler?’
‘Sooo good,’ I say, ‘I don’t want it to end.’
And thus went the simple exchange just before lunch on the balcony. The book referred to, That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx.
I love the books, the short stories, of Annie Proulx – may have mentioned as much here before – all of which bar The Shipping News, which I read in 2000, I’ve devoured in the past year or so; relishing the open country, the bar encounters, the utilitarian motors, the motels, the music, the cooking, the casting, the landscape, the wardrobe and the dustblown dialects. I wrote once that Annie Proulx can introduce and despatch whole generations in a semi-colon; the expert of the sidebar, the by-the-by, the stop-off and the effortless rejoining of the narrative’s highway – the colour that’s so true of how we all of us talk, recount and reminisce. And in that sense, that ‘real’ recounting is at the heart of my not wanting the voices, their companionship to end. That, and the simple romance of the Western.
When this book does end (Kindled at 52% as I write), there are marvellous freebies of B.M Bower and Willa Cather lined up, the early recordings of ranch life, big skies, songs and trouble.
Today is our first visit this vacation to Bar le Sport and its sprawling spill of chairs out on to the quayside; and oddly named, the least bar-y and sport-y place around here. It’s the grandest spot for people watching – our sport – and skilled, low-energy bouts of Lookie-Likie, which we administer from behind dark shades, the particulars mumbled into glasses of rosé and beer, the lookie-likies clocked as they cross between bakery, bank and the leaving of unknown offices. A conversation about old ladies hair-dos; about the proliferation of waistcoats.
Mainly that was Tuesday.