Saturday, November 29, 2008
In a little while we're headed out to the Hamptons, where Mark is giving a reading at six tonight at Canio's in Sag Harbor. (If you're out there tonight, stop by. I think they're planning a little reception.) So, for now, two recentish stories set in the Hamptons--or at least an imaginative Hamptons sans Paltrows and Sir Pauls and Diddys.
Above, my pictures of Fresh Pond in Amagansett from this past August.
I. "Georgica" from Things You Should Know
She has been watching them for weeks, watching without realizing she was watching, watching mesmerized, not thinking they might mean something to her, they might be useful. Tall, thin, with smooth muscled chests, hips narrows, shoulders square: they are growing, thickening, pushing out. Agile and lithe, they carry themselves with the casualness of young men, with the grace that comes from attention, from being noticed. These are hardworking boys, summer-job boys, scholarship boys, clean-cut boys, good boys, local boys, stunningly boyish boys, boys of summer, boys who every morning raise the American flag and every evening lower it, folding it carefully, beautiful boys. Golden boys. Like toasted Wonder Bread; she imagines they are warm to the touch.
She checks to be sure the coast is clear and then crosses to the tall white wooden tower, a steeple at the church of the sea.
She climbs. This is where they perch, ever ready to pull someone from the riptide, where they stand slapping red flags through the air, signaling, where they blow the whistle, summoning swimmers back to the shore. "Ahoy there, you've gone too far."
II. "Beach Town" from The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
The house next door was rented for the summer to a couple who swore at missed croquet shots. Their music at night was loud, and I liked it; it was not music I knew. Mornings, I picked up the empties they had lobbed across the hedge, Coronas with the limes wedged inside, and pitched them back over. We had not introduced ourselves these three months.
Between our houses a tall privet hedge is backed by white pine for privacy in winter. The day I heard the voice of a woman not the wife, I went out back to a spot more heavily planted but with a break I could just see through. Now it was the man who was talking, or trying to--he started to say things he could not seem to finish. I watched the woman do something memorable to him with her mouth. Then the man pulled her up from where she had been kneeling. He said, "Maybe you're just hungry. Maybe we should get you something to eat."