Plays Well With Others

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9780394589145: Plays Well With Others

Book by Gurganus Allan

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

Extrait :

I don't consider myself psychic, just lucky--with friends.

Shall we start with the recent playful miracle? How fast a migraine can clarify to the buzz of good champagne! I am riding the taxi toward La Guardia airport, I'm hurrying to the old house I now occupy. My ticket to North Carolina is nonrefundable, I feel glad to be headed South. I sit studying the purple turban of a driver whose name is, according to the card depicting him, Krishna. Suddenly my forehead--from just over the eyebrows to where hairline once reigned--goes exquisite and sneezy as with some ice-cream headache. I look to the left of Krishna's ordered headdress. I see a peeling decal, "I (Heart) New York." I know.

"Excuse me, Mr. Krishna, sir? We must do a U-ie. I am going to miss my plane. We will now be heading back into the City. There's a little downtown street. I can help navigate. You will double-park, please. In thirty seconds I'll know if it's still there. I bet you anything it is."

Is, is vhhat, szir?

"One chip of paint on the backside of a radiator near our table at the coffeehouse. We all wrote on it. That chip is lying on the tile floor underneath. Piece maybe five inches long. Tomorrow, she will sweep it out. I'm this sure. Look," and, through the open plastic panel, I shove my very white-man-in-his-forties hand. It is trembling, that happy, wobble wobble. I feel proud of my hard-earned uncontrol.

Dark eyes in the rearview mirror gauge my blue-gray ones (brown can "go into" blue more often than blue'll ever fit brown). Mr. Krishna tells me, "Szir, you are having veesion. I vill join you in showing I know what veesions are. Am off-duty. Krishna he believe your veeeesion."

I cannot say how much it meant to get a free ride, forty dollars' worth. Of course, I later paid him anyway. That's part of what you learn. From taking care of people. To accept whatever they can offer. Then you try and pay it back quick. That helps them to give more, which helps them.

He speeds into the web of nighttime Manhattan; things either blink or hide; he stops, he activates the blinkers. I dash into a store all new to me. No coffee smell, no crowd. It's become one of those short-lived shops selling African crafts. The entrance stands guarded by wooden giraffes, near-lifesized, spotted in darker shellac. A dashikied clerk chats up her only customer. I feign shopping. I pass bright crocheted hats you could fit over world globes. I find four bolt holes. Here our group's table once stood. Behind it, the old bowlegged radiator that we sat on during our worst winters.

The owner seems occupied and I, clear of sightlines, drop to my knees. I reach, blind, beneath a radiator still half-warm. I pull fourth a handful. Paint chips, each flake no longer than a feather. My palm closes around them, careful not to crush one. I thank the woman, praise her loot, swear I'll be back and, smuggling litter, jump into Krishna's chariot. It, participatory, squeals off.

When he sees me sorting through my lead-based tea leaves, sees me leaning toward street lamps and stores' neon, Krish, unbidden, ignites the overhead lamp. "Here we are!" I call.

"You are finding, good. What exactly are finding, sir?"

"We all signed this. One night, half-drunk after performing for each other, our works about Paradise, we piled downstairs, needing caffeine, we make a pact to live forever in and out of art, to visit each other's podunk hometowns, scenes of our own first sex crimes. Then each of us, using a yellow felt pen, let a single line spell all our names as one long, perfect, brand-new word, Mr. Krishna."

My head doesn't hurt now, I feel ecstatic. "Krishna, sir? how'd I guess that a woman would sweep it away by noon? How'd I understand our name was still tucked under there tonight only? How'd I know that, buddy?"

Came the calming word. "Veesion."

II. As one of their caretakers, I am taking care to save a record.
(Somebody has to).

By now, my nerves are shot though my news is good: today, at last, my every dying one is safely dead.

Right now, a Thursday, for the first time in over a decade, this very morning--sunny, slight breeze from the northwest--my drycleaned funeral suit slid back into its closet, upstairs, I am allowed to guiltlessly ask, "So, Hartley, buddy, how 'bout an onion bagel for starters? Sound good? Maybe squeeze those navel oranges for juice." My last sick friend finally found peace in this very house, ten days back, in an antique bed, inherited.

This might not sound like much of an achievement, but oh and oy, is it ever! Maybe my rejoicing strikes you as a wee bit weird? I know only this: I can wake up and not wonder first thing, "Has the gasping started? Will they reimburse his apartment security deposit? Which of his aunts did I forget to phone?"  
Now...Where was I?

If you go down on the Titanic--the saga of your drowning becomes just one gust in the vacuum of a famous ship ending. The vessel's destruction outranks your own. Who will see your last three air bubbles rising to the surface of that much black ice water? We have all been upstaged by the newsworthiness of our particular disasters. This is just one of the ways History snubs us.

I now make monthly payments on this clunky, comfortable house (circa 1900); I own that dull Ford wagon (circa 1990) parked out back. Having spent some decades blinking, I am hiding here.

This, you see, is my life's AD/BC revolution. I, Richard Hartley Mims, junior, am briefly returned to my home state, to bovine health, to my own caretaking. So nice you're here; you, alive, too. What a coincidence. That gives us something undeserved in common. I need to testify. The tale of them should ride one long gasp across this first morning I feel fully safe. I need to tell our history quick.

I want it stated in a way as literal as those guides so popular at our public libraries.

"How to Tile Your Own Patio in Under Six Hours, No Previous Experience Required!"

I want it rendered into mild, safe steps.

"How to Survive the Loss of Your Beloved Address Book in Under Fifteen Years, How Not to Numb Every Inch of Your Interior While Doing So, What to Make of Their Remains, and How to Go On, Having Forfeited Your Pals and So Much of Your Previous Experience! First Time Every Time."

The relief today feels like this: having borne all the children you could ever want, you finally choose to get your tubes tied. No further worry about preventing other babies, ever. The perilous fertility has ceased.

My own artistic generation, gay and not--so essentially and goofily good--idealists for just as long as we could be, longer--is now, before age fifty, often good and dead. But not me.

There is one big advantage to getting left back.

Now I KNOW I am alive. Turns out, that is a huge plus. It makes you concentrate. Suspecting you're alive and fairly strong, that helps you let cabbies rise, godlike, to your own occasion. Your duties as a nurse now force you to half-medically forgive yourself. There's another main joy in being the representative left back: I am allowed, even encouraged, to remember them. You will not believe these people that I got to love for years. I still do!

I have always been so lucky in my friends.  Tell me I am not the jinx that "disappeared" them.

A week and a half ago, just after the exit of my best surviving pal, a final survivor of the Titanic died. She had been just five when the liner sank. Last words her father spoke to her from deck? "Hold Mummy's hand very tight. Now go and be a good girl."

She recalled everything. Considering the darkness--certain noises stayed especially real. After the hulk's immense last gasp, from one cold lifeboat where she drifted bundled with her mother in her mother's coat, the child heard many swimmers scream. Such cries. But, she reported, what soon sounded even worse was the quickly spreading silence. One by one, from a darkness out of Dante, so very fast in water this freezing, all the screaming singly ceased.

It was, this old woman (never married) recounted, the stillness afterwards that scared her most. "Out there, floating, in the dark, it became so quiet, you could not believe that a single noise was being made anywhere else on earth."

That is where I live this morning.

The phone is idled. I now take messages for no one else. True, my grandmother's mantel clock ticks on. (Not even silence ever quite mutes that.) I tell myself I mustn't burn my only bagel.

These days people newly sick with it expect to live much longer. Great. But not my crowd. Always pirate pioneers, we were, alas, among its first. The long-promised boat, tiny but already there at the horizon, seems to finally be coming in! It is a boat my darlings missed.

Now everything is slowed and eased and lazied. I have just myself to care for. I am, increasingly, a cinch. Keep it fed, keep it warm, keep things quiet. I've lost a lot but learned so much in losing them. It complexly simplifies you. Last night, showering, you know, I shocked myself. I almost hummed--four bars from an old Lerner musical.

I begin to guess what has just happened--what delicate, expensive ship so recently slid under. Look, I'll squeeze those eight nice oranges. They've only just begun to "turn." Too much juice for one bachelor, but it'll probably get drunk. Simple pleasures. A few sure things now get me through.

Today, no waiting for three doctors' grand rounds, no single ending whimper. Which reminds me of a tacky joke.

It was told at the start of the plague. It was told about a gorgeous Miss America, disqualified. A committee found that, precrown, this ambitious hardworking girl had made some lesbian porn. A girl has to eat.

Q: What is the difference between that Miss America and the Titanic...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

With great narrative inventiveness and emotional amplitude, Allan Gurganus gives us artistic Manhattan in the wild 1980s, where young artists--refugees from the middle class--hurl themselves into playful work and serious fun.  Our guide is Hartley Mims Jr., a Southerner whose native knack for happiness might thwart his literary ambitions. Through his eyes we encounter the composer Robert Christian Gustafson, an Iowa preacher's son whose good looks constitute both a mythic draw and a major limitation, and Angelina "Alabama" Byrnes, a failed deb, five feet tall but bristling with outsized talent.  These friends shelter each other, promote each other's work, and compete erotically.  When tragedy strikes, this circle grows up fast, somehow finding, at the worst of times, the truest sort of family.

Funny and heartbreaking, as eventful as Dickens and as atmospheric as one of Fitzgerald's parties, Plays Well with Others combines a fable's high-noon energy with an elegy's evening grace.  Allan Gurganus's celebrated new novel is a lovesong to imperishable friendship, a hymn to a brilliant and now-vanished world.

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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Gurganus, Allan
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ISBN 10 : 0394589149 ISBN 13 : 9780394589145
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Description du livre Knopf (New York), 1997. Hardcover. État : New. Etat de la jaquette : New. 1st Edition. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. he has signed his name only. New/New. A pristine unread copy. Comes with mylar dust jacket cover. Shipped in well padded box. Smoke-free, defect-free. Purchased new and opened only for author to sign (name only, no personal inscriptions). Purchased new, signed and shelved and untouched since then. You cannot find a better copy. Signed by Author(s). N° de réf. du libraire 11-2012-31

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