winds of winter

I finished A Dance with Dragons a week ago. The only part that surprised me was that “Young Griff” was still alive at the end of the book, and that Queen Selyse hadn’t pushed Shireen and Patches into one of Melisandre’s fires. It seemed that Val was foreshadowing an unpleasant end for the poor girl. As I expected, Jon Snow was killed. Will Melisandre bring him back, or will he come back with blue eyes, as a special-snowflake wight who can control his urge to murder people? The existence of Coldhands shows that it’s possible, but it’s unlikely because Jon will need to go south of the Wall for plot reasons. My friend J,  who is only watching the HBO series, told me that Jon is already back in S6, but she refused to tell me if it was via Melisandre, the Others, or if he somehow managed to survive being stabbed a lot.

V: So, is he alive-alive, or is he like Lady Stoneheart?
J: Who’s Lady Stoneheart?
V: Catelyn comes back and kills a lot of Freys.
J: That doesn’t happen in the show.
V: Do a lot of Freys get killed? They need to go… How are there six seasons? I thought each book was a season.
J: I don’t know.

If there are six season, there must be six books out, right? I tend to scroll past things I’m not into, but I had some vague memory of a year ago, a couple of years ago, seeing a Metafilter thread about the release of The Winds of Winter.  It wasn’t listed on the library’s Overdrive site, which is where I get 90% of my reading, so I stopped by the library to see if I could get a paper copy.

The librarian didn’t see The Winds of Winter listed in the computer, so she called over another librarian. Librarian #2 was hella confused by my request, and then she patiently explained that The Winds of Winter had not been published yet and that fans had been waiting a very long time.

Watching the series is next, but for some reason sitting down and watching a lengthy television series always seems so intimidating and time-consuming. It almost feels like an obligation–must watch Game of Thrones before the three months of HBO Go expires!

“And why, my wife asked, "Are you making this trip?”

“Because things are getting me down.”

“Things are always getting you down. I don’t believe it for a moment.”

“Masaoka Shiki, 35; Ozaki Kōyō, 36; Saitō Ryoku’u, 37; Kunikada Doppo, 37; Nagatsuka Takashi, 26; Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, 35; Kamura Isota, 36.”

“What do you mean by all that?”

“The age at which they all died. All the same age. Me too, I’m just about reaching that age. For an author, this is the most important time of his life.”

“The time when things get him down?”

“What are you talking about? Spare me your jokes. You know very well what I mean. I won’t say anymore about it. If I do, it’ll only sound pretentious. So—I’m going on a trip!”

Perhaps because I have lived such a feckless life up till now, it strikes me as pretentious to explain my feelings (it is also a rather hackneyed literary device), so I won’t add anything more.

Osamu Dazai, Return to Tsugaru (trans. James Westerhoven)

「ね、なぜ旅に出るの?」
「苦しいからさ。」
「あなたの(苦しい)は、おきまりで、ちつとも信用できません。」
「正岡子規三十六、尾崎紅葉三十七、斎藤緑雨三十八、国木田独歩三十八、長塚節三十七、芥川龍之介三十六、嘉村礒多三十七。」
「それは、何の事なの?」
「あいつらの死んだとしさ。ばたばた死んでゐる。おれもそろそろ、そのとしだ。作家にとつて、これくらゐの年齢の時が、一ばん大事で、」
「さうして、苦しい時なの?」
「何を言つてやがる。ふざけちやいけない。お前にだつて、少しは、わかつてゐる筈たがね。もう、これ以上は言はん。言ふと、気障きざになる。おい、おれは旅に出るよ。」
 私もいい加減にとしをとつたせゐか、自分の気持の説明などは、気障な事のやうに思はれて、(しかも、それは、たいていありふれた文学的な虚飾なのだから)何も言ひたくないのである。

“Portia,” he mentioned coldly, “is the ideal Roman wife.”

She was not Laurie’s ideal at all; indulging in a moment of sentiment, he fished in his pocket diary and got out a photograph of Irina Baronova in her costume for Choreartium. While not committing himself to being actually in love, Laurie had a serial fantasy about her, thinly disguised as the plot of a novel he was some day going to write.

– Mary Renault, The Charioteer (1953)

My own mind is a tenement. Some elevators work. There are orange peels and muggings in the halls. Squatters and double locks on some floors, a few flowered window boxes, half-dressed bachelors cooling on the outside fire steps; plaster falls. Sometimes it seems that this may be a nervous breakdown—sleeping all day, tears, insomnia at midnight, and again at four a.m. Then it occurs to me that a lot of people have it. Or, of course, worse.

Renata Adler, Speedboat 

All fictional characters are flat. A writer can give an illusion of depth by giving an apparently stereoscopic view of a character—seeing him from two vantage points; all a writer can do is give more or less information about a character, not information of a different order. […] There are the protagonists and there are characters who are furniture. One gives only one aspect of the furniture. Sebastian Flyte was a protagonist.

Evelyn Waugh 

There were two main elucidations. One asserted that, the worse for drink, trying to abstract a copy of The Golden Treasury from a large glass-fronted bookcase in order to verify a quotation required for a radio programme, Bagshaw overturned on himself this massive piece of furniture. As volume after volume descended on him, it was asserted he made the comment: ‘Books do furnish a room.’ Others had a different story. They would have it that Bagshaw, stark naked, had spoken the words conversationally as he approached the sofa on which lay, presumably in the same state, the wife of a well-known dramatic critic (on duty at the theatre that night appraising the First Night of The Apple Cart), a clandestine meeting having reached emotional climax in her husband’s book-lined study. Bagshaw was alleged to have spoken the words, scarcely more than muttered them—a revolutionary’s tribute to bourgeois values—as he rapidly advanced towards his prey: ‘Books do furnish a room.’ The lady, it could have been none other, was believed later to have complained to a third party of lack of sensibility on Bagshaw’s part in making such an observation at such a juncture. Whichever story were true—probably neither, the second had all the flavour of having been worked over, if not invented, by Moreland—the nickname stuck.

Anthony Powell, Books Do Furnish a Room