- Zadie Smith
- My last highlight
- Number of highlights
the present-day American poets, the rappers.
What a period this was to live through! His children were old enough to make him laugh. They were real people who entertained and argued and existed entirely independently from him, although he had set the thing in motion.
A tall, garnet-coloured building in the New England style, the Belsey residence roams over four creaky floors. The date of its construction (1856) is patterned in tile above the front door, and the windows retain their mottled green glass, spreading a dreamy pasture on the floorboards whenever strong light passes through them. They are not original, these windows, but replacements, the originals being too precious to be used as windows. Heavily insured, they are kept in a large safe in the basement.
When people get married, there is often a battle to see which family – the husband’s or the wife’s – will prevail.
Jerome ain’t gonna marry anybody. He can’t find his dick with two hands.’ Howard, though duty bound to disapprove of this, did not completely disagree with the diagnosis.
He imagined waking up this morning and digging his bike out of the snow and riding to a proper job, the kind Belseys had had for generations, and found he couldn’t imagine it. This interested Howard, for a moment: the idea that he could no longer gauge the luxuries of his own life.
The absence of snow was sensational. To hold a cigarette without wearing gloves, to reveal one’s whole face to the air! Howard
‘Young people, Howard,’ said Mrs Kipps, as if beginning a Caribbean children’s story Howard had no interest in hearing, ‘they got their own way of doing things – it’s not always our way, but it’s a way.’ She smiled a purple gummy smile, and shook her head several times with what appeared to be a slight palsy.
On a shelf here she kept a chaotic pile of multipurpose scarves, like something a magician might pull from his pocket. Now
‘Honey,’ said Kiki, moving her head from side to side in a manner she understood white people enjoyed,
It was a Friday night. Single-sex clusters of Bostonians made their boisterous way through the streets, hoping to collide with their opposite numbers.
The experience of listening to an hour’s music you barely know in a dead language you do not understand is a strange falling and rising experience. For minutes at a time you are walking deep into it, you seem to understand. Then, without knowing how or when exactly, you discover you have wandered away, bored or tired from the effort, and now you are nowhere near the music. You refer to the programme notes. The notes reveal that the past fifteen minutes of wrangling over your soul have been merely the repetition of a single inconsequential line.
It was not New York, sure, but it was the only city he had, and Levi treasured the urban the same way previous generations worshipped the pastoral; if he could have written an ode he would have.
She could not do distress.
‘You like? I would so very much like to tell you I just threw it together,’ said Meredith loudly and quickly in her nervous, Californian scream, ‘but it takes me a long, looong time to look this good. Bridges have been built quicker. Whole hermeneutic systems have coalesced with more speed.
A circle of strange young anthropologists Howard didn’t think he knew remained in the kitchen all night, hovering by the food, fearful of going anywhere where there was not an abundance of props – glasses, bottles, canapés – with which to fiddle.
‘God, he was right here. God. He’s around here some place . . . God, where is he?’ It was an ailment Zora inherited from her father: when confronted with people she knew to be religious she began to blaspheme wildly.
He found that his accent caused a delayed reaction in certain Americans. It was sometimes the next day before they realized how rude he had been to them.
And still Howard’s conversation continued. He began to see no way out of it. ‘Well,’ he said loudly, hoping to finish it off with a daunting display of academic pyrotechnics,
Zora nodded politely. ‘Right, you understand me,’ said Carl vigorously, as if with this nod Zora had signed her name to a declaration of undisclosed principles of Carl’s choosing.
Zora was extremely fond of scheduling meetings about her future with important people for whom her future was not really a top priority.
Kiki laughed her big lovely laugh in the small store. People looked up from their speciality goods and smiled abstractly, supporting the idea of pleasure even if they weren’t certain of the cause.
Here were people. Here were tastes and buying habits and physical attributes.
‘Man, that’s freaky. That’s just not right,’ said Levi, whose mind naturally lent itself to conspiratorial and mystical phenomena.
It takes a lot of practice to ensure that a whole bottle of Cabernet and a pint of beer makes only a slight dent in your sobriety, but Howard felt he had reached this stage of accomplishment.
Umbrellas, like dead birds after a shooting party, pile up in the far corner. Professors
They were both nodding a lot. Sadness swept over Jerome. They had nothing to say to each other. A five-year age gap between siblings is like a garden that needs constant attention. Even three months apart allows the weeds to grow up between you.
He was still restless. He hadn’t brought his iPod out with him today, and he had no personal resources to cope with being alone without music.
He seemed to have overestimated Levi’s curiosity about the lives of other people.