It’s the little things

Now he was quite alone in a totally strange country. He did not know the name of his host or his host’s house. He pictured himself tramping from village to village saying: “Can you tell me the address of a young man who was hunting this morning? ”
Evelyn Waugh, The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh from Love in the Slump (61)

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Oh Evelyn Waugh- a weekend pleasure, rich wit, smooth prose, sweet charm; Love in a Slump (one among many) is a funny sort of tale.

Moreover, Tom suddenly remembered he was married. Of course he and Angela knew each other so well…but there were limits. (61)

This is what happens, I suppose,  when sense smothers sensibility. The little details like, where am I? Whose house am I visiting? oh that’s right, I’m married are so easily forgotten. At the risk of Waugh-esquely humiliating myself, I recall an evening not very so long ago when I was babysitting.  It got so very late it occurred to me to wonder what to do if the parents did not return. I was suddenly overtaken by severe alarm as I realized that I did not know the address of where I was, nor did I know the first name of the husband, or the last name of either spouse (they were friends of an acquaintance- long gone is the age of formal introductions).

I imagined my regretful call to the police, Yes, I’m sorry to say I have no idea where I am or whose children I am in charge of, but rest assured in every other way I am possibly over-qualified for the job… At the last moment I was spared having to make such an awkward call by the parent’s return.

Tom and I have a bit in common it would seem- a reserve that borders on stupidity, a pathological need to not make a bother, creating one thousand and one other bothers in our wake of polite deference.

His regard for her was sentimental but quite unaspiring. (57)

Waugh’s story is a gleefully glum look at a marriage On this basis of mutual sacrifice they arranged for their future. (58) But it’s quite funny. Many of the characters in this collection of his short stories are stunted by an inability to be present. Over and over again they flop from one hapless event to another, making apologizes as they go.

Waugh has a sharp focus on the dark undertones of life, but keeps every thing on the up and up in his most English proper style: sort of like a wicked dark chocolate cake adorned with a slightly sour crème fraîche  made sweetly tart by bright red raspberries. Delicious stories all.

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9 responses to “It’s the little things

  1. Mmm. That tart looks delicious.

  2. Thanks. It was very tasty.

  3. When am I going to do all of this reading!? This review made me LOL and nod knowingly…
    (couldn’t resist using the acronym–obviously)

  4. Yes! The English won’t abide a book that doesn’t have some manneristic comedy sprinkled across it. Like how GB Shaw had to write all of the delightful plays we love to read, rife with witty aristocrats, so that he could preface them with 150 pages damning aristocrats and their hypocritical values.

  5. Oooh – literature and food… I’m glad I’ve found your blog 🙂

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