Friday, November 09, 2012

Impossibly pale, lucid, and silver

His eyes were like razors and white diamonds. They were impossibly pale, lucid, and silver. People said, "When Pearly Soames opens his eyes, its electric lights." He had a scar that went from the corner of his mouth to his ear. To look at it made the beholder feel a knife on his own skin, cutting deep and sharp, because Pearly Soames' scar was like a white trough reticulated with painful filaments of cold ivory. It had been with him since the age of four, a gift from his father, who had tried and failed to cut his son's throat.

Of course, it's bad to be a criminal. Everyone knows that, and can swear that its true. Criminals mess up the world. But they are, as well, retainers of fluidity. In fact, one might make the case that New York would not have shone without its legions of contrary devils polishing the lights of goodness with their inexplicable opposition and resistance. It might even be said that criminals are a necessary component of the balanced equation which steadily and beautifully eats up all the time that is thrown upon its steely back. They are the sugar and alcohol of a city, a red flash in the mosaic, lightning on a hot night. So was Pearly.

— from Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and maybe (please?) some days off where I can immerse myself in this book. I'm finding it hard to give myself over to it when I have only 10-minute spurts of congested reading time on the metro (both it and my head being congested). But there are such flashes of gorgeous. Pearly gorgeous.
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