- Rachel Cusk
- My last highlight
- Number of highlights
He asked me how I liked the hotel and I said that I had found its circularity surprisingly confusing. Several times already I had tried to go somewhere and found myself back where I started. I hadn’t realised, I said, how much of navigation is the belief in progress, and the assumption of fixity in what you have left behind. I had walked around the entire circumference of the building in search of things I had been right next to in the first place, an error that was virtually guaranteed by the fact that all the building’s sources of natural light had been concealed by angled partitions, so that the routes around it were almost completely dark. You found the light, in other words, not by following it but by stumbling on it randomly and at greater or lesser length; or to put it another way, you knew where you were only once you had arrived. I didn’t doubt that it was for such metaphors that the architect had won his numerous prizes, but it rested on the assumption that people lacked problems of their own, or at the very least had nothing better to do with their time. My publisher widened his eyes.
I started to think about our daughter and about how cute and innocent she is, and I completely forgot the fact that being with her sometimes makes me feel like I’m trapped in a room with a swarm of bees.
She was wearing a tissue-like black shawl and she drew it back to hold out a small bony hand to me with numerous glinting antique rings on the fingers, introducing herself by a name so long and complex I had to ask her to repeat it.
She sat back so that the waiters could put the dishes on the table. They contained a brown, strong-smelling puree, and Sophia wrinkled her nose and said that this dish had a name that could more or less be translated as ‘the parts no one would eat otherwise’.
The waiters had by now removed the dishes of puree and were bringing the next course, a small moulded shape which Sophia portentously described as being made of fish, and of which she again took only the tiniest amount.
While she spoke her eyes grew larger and more brilliant and it seemed possible they were filling with tears, yet she continued to smile in a way that made it clear she was practised in keeping her composure. The Welsh novelist looked at her with polite concern, an expression of faint alarm on his face.