Passages I Love, Volume 1

Some books are just better than others; some writers better.

The following passage is taken from Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero, and is one of my favorite passages from the book.

The clock-maker wiped the appearance of mildew or foxing off the white portal of the dial and then lifted it off the mechanism. I, in order to remain close by, needed to appear humble — he insisted on a papal-like authority — and when told I was a writer, or at least was known to be a writer, he would speak to me rather than the other spectators, as if we were on another, professional level of existence. When it was clarified that I was a poet, my status slipped a rung or two and he muttered some line I didn’t quite catch that got a laugh somewhere to his left, a laugh guided by his own.

The skill of writing offers little to a viewer. There is only this five-centimetre relationship between between your eyes and the pen. Any skill in the divining or dreaming is invisible, whereas the clock-maker visiting Auch removed his dark cotton jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt, at which point I would part company from Claudille at the small round table by the window and come closer to the unrolled oilskin and its slim pockets that held tools and oil capsules, and his little flashlight for the machine’s dungeons. Soon I was almost within the pleasure of his serious demeanor.

So, what did you think? Is there anything in the passage you like, don’t like? What are your favorite passages?

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