Thursday, September 8, 2011

Daily Lafferty - # 3

'A ghost in red chalk completed the brain-weave, a red wraith of disarming simplicity and shattering profundity: so young an anima that she still had not shook off the poltergeistic manifestations of her own adolescence; a numinous pink spook, lazy with summer lightning and instantaneous with blood-gaiety, shyly murderous, with a laugh like breaking crystal, eldritch and ethereal: Biddy Bencher the young red witch.'

-R. A. Lafferty, Fourth Mansions (1969)


Kevin Cheek said...

Ah, my favorite canelon, or cinnamon cookie.

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

That's right, he keeps calling her a 'cinammon cookie' in the novel, doesn't he? I love the light but dense character descriptions he does in this book. He consciously references painters a lot to describe what the people look like and it feels like he's deftly painting in the characters himself with swift and sure brush strokes - very Chestertonian. There's a lot of energy and fun and the joy of master-craftsmanship at the height of its powers. I'm pretty sure these character sketches have no equal in Lafferty's other works.

Kevin Cheek said...

I think the references to the painters describe their character and characteristic movement as much as they describe appearance. The best example of this is his introduction of Wing Manion:
"Wing Manion reminded one of a fish done by Paul Klee: not in her actual appearance, of course, but in her style. Yet she was good looking, and Klee never painted a good looking fish in his life. Those Klee fishes, though, they have passion." p.16 (for example:

I love the three-part introductions he gives the Harvesters: first their impact on the environment, then a physical and personality description by comparison with a painter, and later as experienced by Miguel Fuentes when they enter his mind:

"Bedelia Bencher came onto the patio at Morada, and certain flowers in a bowl lifted their heads and followed her.
"'I thought those were artificial flowers,' Bedelia piqued.
"'They are,' said Letitia Bauer, 'but they've learned to raise their heads when you come just as natural flowers do.'" p.13

"This Bedelia (Biddy) Bencher was a drawing in red chalk by Matisse. She was red-haired and lightly freckled and beautifully bony (the last her own description). She had a lustful mouth and innocent eyes and was full of green passion. She was nineteen years old and had been nineteen for quite a while." p.14

(as the weave invades Miguel Fuentes:)
"'Now I have a canelón, a cinnamon cookie in my head,' the young man joked with a thick tongue: for canelón means gargoyle as well as cinnamon cookie, and Biddy Bencher was both." p.24

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Yes, absolutely! I hadn't consciously noticed the three-tiered introductions - that's great. Thanks!

Kevin Cheek said...

Lafferty loved his 3s.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)