À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.
Ah, vacation: spending time with the relatives, drinking Bell's with my brother, and reading.
Take them all away
when the telegram came that she was dying the bellglass cracked in a screech of slate pencils (have you ever never been able to sleep for a week in April?) and He met me in the grey trainshed my eyes were stinging with vermillion bronze and chromegreen inks that oozed fromt he spinning April hills His moustaches were white the tired droop of an old man's cheeks She's gone Jack grief isn't a uniform and the in the parlor the waxen odor of lilies in the parlor (He and I we must bury the uniform of grief)
then the riversmell the shimmering Potomac reaches the little choppysilver waves at Indian Head there were mockingbirds in the graveyard and the roadsides steamed with spring April enough to shock the world
-- John Dos Passos, 1919 (1931), "The Camera Eye (28)," p. 6
One part of the cross-section of American life, fictional and real, mixed together by Dos Passos is the Camera Eye sections that run throughout the U.S.A. trilogy. These are autobiographical remembrances, in a stream of consciousness style, culled from the author's experiences living all over the world. The second paragraph quoted here contains one of many references to his time living in the Washington area. If you go down the Potomac River past Mount Vernon, you will see the picturesque peninsula known as Indian Head, in Charles County, Md. At the time of this novel's action, it was still very rustic, a few houses next to the U.S. Navy's proving ground (now the Naval Surface Warfare Center). I have no idea about the quotation that begins this excerpt, if it comes from a poem or a song. Some band named Madagascar has apparently used those words as the title of a song, on their album Forced March.
Trifonov scales the Eiger
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