Tag Archives: white teeth

Paragraphs: Zadie Smith and Raymond Chandler

As mentioned, I’m reading Zadie Smith’s first novelWhite Teeth; it’s excellent, though I liked On Beauty better. But nothing in On Beauty really approaches the sustained uproariousness of the Chalfen section of White Teeth, which I’ve just now gotten to. The Chalfens are an idealized secular-liberal “modern” British family of the 1980s, a sort of updated version of the family Jane wishes herself half-into at the end of Half Magic. Through a bit of business involving a mishandled joint, the two working-class teens at the center of the book end up spending every Tuesday afternoon in the Chalfens’ enthusiastic company.

Oh, to have the pitch control to write this:

“You’ll stay for dinner, won’t you?” pleaded Joyce. “Oscar really wants you to stay. Oscar loves having strangers in the house, he finds it really stimulating. Especially brown strangers! Don’t you, Oscar?”

“No, I don’t,” confided Oscar, spitting in Irie’s ear. “I hate brown strangers.”

“He finds brown strangers really stimulating,” whispered Joyce.

Also, via MetaFilter commenter George_Spiggott, Raymond Chandler in 1953 does his impression of science fiction:

“I checked out with K 19 on Aldebaran III, and stepped out through the crummalite hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timejector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass. My breath froze into pink pretzels. I flicked on the heat bars and the Brylls ran swiftly on five legs using their other two to send out crylon vibrations. The pressure was almost unbearable, but I caught the range on my wrist computer through the transparent cysicites. I pressed the trigger. The thin violet glow was ice cold against the rust-colored mountains. The Brylls shrank to half an inch long and I worked fast stepping on them with the poltex. But it wasn’t enough. The sudden brightness swung me around and the Fourth Moon had already risen. I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn’t enough. He was right.”

Classic.

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Early voting in Madison

I voted yesterday after work, and if you live in the city of Madison, so can you.

The wait was about an hour; I was told it was longer at lunchtime, shorter during standard work hours. The atmosphere was pleasant and chatty. Lots of college students. A poster outside the city clerk’s office said that almost 10,000 people have already voted in person, and 10,000 more absentee ballots have been mailed.

Everyone’s expecting high turnout this year, and lawyers are already circling the polling places, making ready for the inevitable legal challenges arising from long lines, spoiled ballots, and tired voters and election workers. So if you want to do something civic-minded and non-partisan this election, go down to the city clerk and vote early. Every voter not at the polls on Election Day makes it that much more likely that everything goes smoothly.

The city clerk is at 210 MLK boulevard, and is open for voting 8am-7pm Mon-Thurs, 8am-4:30pm Friday, 8am-3pm Saturday. Last early voting is 5pm on November 3. If you’re not registered at your current address, bring proof of residence and they’ll register you on the spot. Bring a book. I had White Teeth, which is great so far.

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