Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 2.5 (Henry James)


The Golden Bowl
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
James, Henry
The Golden Bowl


Not sure where I purchased this. If I had to guess, I'd say Rust Belt Books. The inside flap says I paid $2.75. I violated my rule about not starting to read or reread the books under consideration the other day by picking this one up and becoming thoroughly engrossed. I remember trying to read this at some point and not getting very far. Henry James is one of those writers whose works seem to get better the older I get.

Back to the residences. In 1986 I graduated from high school and decided to take a year off. I really didn't want to go to college at all so this seemed like a way to ease into a life sans education. I decided to move out to the ski areas in Colorado. My father had twice taken the family on ski vacations there: once to Vail, the other time to Breckenridge. I really liked Breckenridge, so I chose that as my destination.

1986: Upon arrival, I stayed for a week in a bed and breakfast, where I made the acquaintance of my future roommates -- all five of them. We rented an A-Frame house in Dillon, CO, just over the Swan Mountain Road from Breckenridge. The house had a small front porch that led to the front door.

Most of the downstairs was comprised of a single room that contained a living room with a fireplace, a dining area, and an open kitchen. A short hallway in the rear led to two small bedrooms. A set of stairs ran upstairs to two small bedrooms with a bathroom in between. There may also have been a bath downstairs, but I am not quite sure.

Under the stairs a small crawlspace had been built to store wood and such. Shortly after we moved in, I discovered a large plastic kitchen bag filled with pot. There was so much it lasted the entire winter -- for five people!

My main memory of this house was that it was very cold. In order to keep warm, we decided to separate the fireplace from the rest of the house. We found an old hang glider under the front porch and we used one metal rod from a wing to hang the material across the living room, creating a makeshift divider between it and the rest of the downstairs. We spent many a night sleeping side by side in sleeping bags by the fire.

None of us had any money to pay for firewood, so we used to take turns at night wandering the neighborhood stealing it for warmth. My other memory is that the whole house was covered in a dark brown shag carpet -- the real long, disgusting kind. We eventually got evicted for having too many people in the house.

from The Golden Bowl

The Prince had always liked his London, when it had come to him; he was one of the modern Romans who find by the Thames a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber. Brought up on the legend of the City to which the world paid tribute, he recognised in the present London much more than in contemporary Rome the real dimensions of such a case. If it was a question of an Imperium, he said to himself, and if one wished, as a Roman, to recover a little the sense of that, the place to do so was on London Bridge, or even, on a fine afternoon in May, at Hyde Park Corner. It was not indeed to either of those places that these grounds of his predilection, after all sufficiently vague, had, at the moment we are concerned with him, guided his steps; he had strayed, simply enough, into Bond Street, where his imagination, working at comparatively short range, caused him now and then to stop before a window in which objects massive and lumpish, in silver and gold, in the forms to which precious stones contribute, or in leather, steel, brass, applied to a hundred uses and abuses, were as tumbled together as if, in the insolence of the Empire, they had been the loot of far-off victories. The young man's movements, however, betrayed no consistency of attention--not even, for that matter, when one of his arrests had proceeded from possibilities in faces shaded, as they passed him on the pavement, by huge beribboned hats, or more delicately tinted still under the tense silk of parasols held at perverse angles in waiting victorias. And the Prince's undirected thought was not a little symptomatic, since, though the turn of the season had come and the flush of the streets begun to fade, the possibilities of faces, on the August afternoon, were still one of the notes of the scene. He was too restless--that was the fact--for any concentration, and the last idea that would just now have occurred to him in any connection was the idea of pursuit.

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