Out at sea a single clarinet begins to play, a droll melody joined in on after a few bars by guitars and mandolins. Birds huddle bright-eyed on the beach. Katje’s heart lightens, a little, at the sound.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“His life had been tied to the past. He’d seen himself a point on a moving wavefront, propagating through sterile history—a known past, a projectable future. But she was the breaking of the wave. Suddenly there was a beach, the unpredictable… new life. Past and future stopped at the beach: that was how he’d set it out. But he wanted to believe it too, the same way he loved her, past all words—believe that no matter how bad the time, nothing was fixed, everything could be changed and she could always deny the dark sea at his back, love it away. And (selfishly) that from a somber youth, squarely founded on Death—along for Death’s ride—he might, with her, find his way to life and to joy.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
I was cleaning out and organizing some old files.
“Glad to hear it.” Slothrop is smiling. You’re on my list too, pal. This
smile asks from him more grace than anything in his languid American
life ever has, up till now. Grace he always imagined himself short on. But
it’s working. He’s surprised, and so grateful that he almost starts crying
then. The best part of all is not that Bounce appears fooled by the smile,
but that Slothrop knows now that it will work for him again….
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
― Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
“The English are kind of weird when it comes to the way things taste, Mom. They aren’t like us. It might be the climate. They go for things we would never dream of. Sometimes it is enough to turn your stomach, boy. The other day I had had one of these things they call ‘wine jellies.’ That’s their idea of candy, Mom! Figure out a way to feed some to that Hitler ‘n’ I betcha the war’d be over tomorrow!” Now once again he finds himself checking out these ruddy gelatin objects, nodding, he hopes amiably, at Mrs. Quoad. They have the names of different wines written on them in bas-relief.
“Just a touch of menthol too,” Mrs. Quoad popping one into her mouth. “Delicious.”
Slothrop finally chooses one that says Lafitte Rothschild and stuffs it on into his kisser. “Oh yeah. Yeah. Mmm. It’s great.”
“If you really want something peculiar try the Bernkastler Doktor. Oh! Aren’t you the one who brought me those lovely American slimy elm things, maple-tasting with a touch of sassafras—”
“Slippery elm. Jeepers I’m sorry, I ran out yesterday.”
Darlene comes in with a steaming pot and three cups on a tray. “What’s that?” Slothrop a little quickly, here.
“You don’t really want to know, Tyrone.”
“Quite right,” after the first sip, wishing she’d used more lime juice or something to kill the basic taste, which is ghastly-bitter. These people are really insane. No sugar, natch. He reaches in the candy bowl, comes up with a black, ribbed licorice drop. It looks safe. But just as he’s biting in, Darlene gives him, and it, a peculiar look, great timing this girl, sez, “Oh, I thought we got rid of all those—” a blithe, Gilbert & Sullivan ingenue’s thewse—“years ago,” at which point Slothrop is encountering this dribbling liquid center, which tastes like mayonnaise and orange peels.
“You’ve taken the last of my Marmalade Surprises!” cries Mrs. Quoad, having now with conjuror’s speed produced an egg-shaped confection of pastel green, studded all over with lavender nonpareils. “Just for that I shan’t let you have any of these marvelous rhubarb creams.” Into her mouth it goes, the whole thing.
—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (The Disgusting English Candy Drill)
Sodas from RocketFizz, Deep Ellum, Texas
“TO BE A TOURIST is to escape accountability. Errors and failings don’t cling to you the way they do back home. You’re able to drift across continents and languages, suspending the operation of sound thought. Tourism is the march of stupidity. You’re expected to be stupid.
― Don DeLillo, The Names