Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cousin Fries's Run On Sentence of the Week

Yup, cousin Fries has been reading again. Right now it happens to be
Nightmare Alley by Mr. William Lindsay Gresham, the great poet of the dark American carnival, of the geek. Forever and a day, it was hard to get one's clammy hands on either the novel or the classic film noir adapted from it (a favorite of those who should know their film noir, from the noir archivist and writer Eddie Muller, the painter Joe Coleman, and writer Nick Tosches, who referred to Gresham's novel as "borderline brilliant"). But thanks to the Library of America, Gresham's book will stay in print. And thanks to the general state of a dvd society, the movie is out there again finally as part of Fox's noir line.

Gresham's life was as dark as the tale he told in his most successful book. He ended up killing himself in a New York hotel, haunting the same area where he had previously written the novel. His wife, Joy Davidman left him for C.S. Lewis, their love affair fictionlized in the play/film Shadowlands. That said, analysis of Gresham's work has been elucidated far more eloquently by others than I feel up to right now. So instead, I'm lifting one heckuva a stream of consciousness run on sentence paragraph smack dab from the middle of this hard-boiled bible and excerpting here for your, dear reader's, tender perusal. We sure hope you're gonna enjoy...

"At her door they stopped and she turned to him, smiling serenely, telling him in that smile that he wasn't coming in tonight, that she didn't need him, didn't want him tonight, didn't want his mouth on her, didn't want him to kneel beside her, kissing her, didn't want anything of him except the knowledge that when she wanted him in the night and wanted his mouth on her and wanted him kneeling beside her, kissing her, she would have him doing all those things to her as she wanted them done and just when she wanted them done and just how she wanted them done to her because she had only what she wanted from anybody and she had let him do those things to her because he could do them better than anyone else although he didn't know if there was anybody else and didn't want to know and it didn't matter and she could have him any time she wanted those things done to her because that was the way she was and she was to be obeyed in all things because she held in her hand the golden thread which carried the current of life into him and she held behind her eyes the rheostat that fixed the current and she could starve him and dry him up and kill him by freezing if she wanted to and this was where he had gotten himself only it didn't matter because as long as one end of the golden wire was embedded in his brain he could breathe and live and move and become as great as she wanted since she sent the current along the wire for him to become great with and live with and even make love to Molly with when Molly begged him to tell her if he didn't want her any more so she might get some man before she looked like an old hay-burner and her insides were too tight for her to have a kid."

You can breathe now. And now I just need to find a copy of Gresham's non-fiction tome, Monster Midway.


1 comment:

Transylvania Gentlemen said...

Reminds me of a crappy Star Trek novel I remember reading in high school that actually began with an run-on sentence that took up most of the first page, something like:

""Oof!" said Scotty, the forces of inertia causing his body to slam against the bulkhead, as the ear-splitting claxon of the red alert rang out against the tumult and chaos of dozens of crewmen scrambling for position on the engineering desk and wondering what could possibly have caused the ship to lurch sideways with such a great force...."

Something like that, only much much longer. As Nick Tosches once sarcastically remarked, good writers make it look so easy!