Pg. 17 #11

For several months past I have been planning my spare time upon a set regimen. I allow myself one hour a day for concentrated meditation. One of my favourite reveries is the idea of founding an institution from which you send out bills to people all over the world, and then sue them when they don’t pay. You get a commission from the lawyers your unfortunate victims employ to defend themselves.

*

‘Listen, Ragle,’ Black said. ‘You’re really making a mint out of this ‘green man’ contest, aren’t you?’ Envy was rampant on his face. ‘Couple of hours at it, and you’ve got a week’s pay right there.’

*

A few minutes later they were in the main business district of Greeneville. The driver swung in to the curb and stopped. He said, ‘This is about the middle of town, mister. Guess you can look up your party in the phone book and you’ll be all right. And there’s a taxi stand right across the street to get you wherever you’re going. Charge you a hell of a price, but they’ll get you there.’

*

And zombielike, halfway through the dinner, I lost the del Luca prize check for $25,000. Having tucked the check into the inside breast pocket of my jacket, I let my hand stray idly to that place and realized that it was gone. Did I “intend” to lose the money? Recently I had been deeply bothered that I was not deserving of the prize. I believe in the reality of the accidents we subconsciously perpetrate on ourselves, and so how easy it was for this loss to be not loss but a form of repudiation offshoot of that self-loathing (depression’s premier badge) by which I was persuaded that I could not be worthy of the prize, that I was in fact not worthy of any of the recognition that had come my way in the past few years.

*

In the evening we reached Santa Maria de Nieva as the last light was fading. On the way the boat ran aground and the propeller broke. While we were tied up on the bank replacing it, Indians watched us through the branches from their nearby hut, remaining silent and motionless, and they remained motionless as we set out again, going upstream. In Nieva, Jaime de Aguilar showed us gold dust, which he had folded neatly into a piece of stationery. The comandante in Pinglo makes hundreds of his Indian recruits pan for gold in the Rio Santiago, and he already owns sixty-five beer bottles filled with gold dust. I saw youthful soldiers working on a sand bank.

*

All over the nation girls started to earn their own money. Gold diggers whose lives had been the most tedious, readily took to exciting jobs as mannequins, models, and cover girls. Those with sufficient talent went on the stage. Nontalented beauties got jobs in Hollywood and the nonbeauties went into offices.

*

He is in Colour the most beautiful of his Race, in Symmetry the most Perfect, in Temper the most Docile, his Nature is so far from being offensive, that he is pleasing to all who honor him with their presence.

*

This week’s selection of passages from seven page seventeens from seven books on my living room shelving seems to focus on money, but also colour. It all started with the short section of the first Philip K. Dick novel I ever read, where Dick seems to be riffing, consciously or not, on manifestations of the colour green — from mint, to the little green man, to folding green to the green of envy. And from there on, everywhere I looked there seem to be green and gold or at least referencing colour, and the colour of money in particular.

A Dreadful Man, by Brian Aherne, extract from a letter from George Sanders; Time Out of Joint, by Philip K. Dick; What Mad Universe, by Fredric Brown; Darkness Visible, by William Styron; Conquest of the Useless, Reflections from the Making of Fitcarraldo, by Werner Herzog; Kiss Hollywood Goodbye, by Anita Loos; Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, by Ricky Jay, from an advertisement for Toby the sapient pig;

2 Responses to “Pg. 17 #11”

  1. Jeff Gee Says:

    Incredibly, I read 6 of the 7 books here excerpted, although “Time Out of Joint” was the only one I (almost) recognized. (Almost, because I was thinking “I READ this” without knowing what it was). I think this is the Shadowplay equivalent of a million monkeys at a million typewriters typing the complete works of Shakespeare, but they came up with “A Dreadful Man” by Brian Aherne instead of “Titus Andronicus.” The Aherne being the one I didn’t read.

    I miss Ricky Jay.

  2. I was going to confess to not having read all of them cover to cover, but I think the Herzog is the only one this is true of.

    Doing the page 17s seems like a good way to justify having a lot of unread books and still buying more. Now one or two bookshops have reopened here so the saga continues…

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