Movies in Literature Part 4: Paul Auster’s ‘The Book of Illusions’

0000096629-50296l

7651597_1057271661

 

Above are a couple of pictures of Hank Mann, a silent comedian with a big moustache. I think these can serve as nice illustrations for the character Hector Mann in Paul Auster’s Book of Illusions. In fact online I find a description of this guy that reminds me a little of the silent comedian  that Auster lovingly constructs in his novel: ‘His junkyard-dog face was softened a bit by a huge paintbrush mustache, which emphasized his expressive, almost wistful eyes.’

In the first chapter of The Book of Illusions we meet our protagonist-narrator David Zimmer, an academic in Comparative Literature who has recently lost his wife and children in a plane crash. In the depths of his depression he turns the TV on to find a retrospective of silent comedy and becomes glued to the image of the long-forgotten Hector Mann. As an academic he, of course, can’t leave it at that and with the money from his wife’s life insurance he jet-sets it across the globe, planning to watch the surviving films, in various nations’ archives. 

The three short sequences selected below come from Chapter Two of the novel, beginning with Zimmer’s description of Hector Mann’s character and moving on to his description of a late Mann film Mr Nobody, the darkness of which is attributed to production difficulties and the fears of the coming of new sound technology. In Mr Nobody Hector runs the Fizzy Pop Beverage Corporation and is turned invisible by an assistant, who wants to take control of his company. This simple comic trope is given something of a philosophical turn in Auster’s hands..

*****

  Before the body, there is the face, and before the face, there is the thin black line between Hector’s nose and upper lip. A twitching filament of anxieties, a metaphysical jump rope, a dancing thread of discombobulation, the mustache is a seismograph of Hector’s inner states, and not only does it make you laugh, it tells you what Hector is thinking, actually allows you into the machinery of his thoughts. Other elements are involved-the eyes, the mouth, the finely calibrated lurches and stumbles-but the mustache is the instrument of communication, and even though it speaks a language without words, its wriggles and flutters are as clear and comprehensible as a message tapped out in Morse code.

  None of this would be possible without the intervention of the camera. The intimacy of the talking mustache is a creation of the lens. At various moments in each of Hector’s films, the angle suddenly changes, and a wide or medium shot is replaced by a close-up. Hector’s face fills the screen, and with all references to the environment eliminated, the mustache becomes the center of the world. It begins to move, and because Hector’s skill is such that he can control the muscles in the rest of his face, the mustache appears to be moving on its own, like a small animal, with an independent consciousness and will. The mouth curls a bit at the corners, the nostrils flare ever so slightly, but as the mustache goes through its antic gyrations, the face is essentially still, and in that stillness one sees oneself as if in a mirror, for it is during these moments that Hector is most fully and convincingly human, a reflection of what we all are when we’re alone inside ourselves. These close-up sequences are reserved for the critical passages of a story, the junctures of greatest tension or surprise, and they never last longer than four or five seconds. When they occur, everything else stops. The mustache launches into its soliloquy, and for those few precious moments, action gives way to thought. We can read the content of Hector’s mind as though it were spelled out in letters across the screen, and before those letters vanish, they are no less visible than a building, a piano, or a pie in the face. 

  In motion the mustache is a tool for expressing the thoughts of all men. In repose it is little more than an ornament.

  He goes outside again and starts walking through the streets. The downtown boulevards are deserted, and Hector appears to be the only person left in the city. What has happened to the crowds and commotion that surrounded him before? Where are the cars and trolleys, the masses of people thronging the sidewalk? For a moment we wonder if the spell has not been reversed. Perhaps Hector is visible again, we think, and everyone else has vanished. Then, out of nowhere, a truck drives by, speeding through a puddle. Plumes of water rise up from the pavement, splashing everything in sight. Hector is drenched, but when the camera turns around to show us the damage, the front of his suit is spotless. It should be a funny moment, but it isn’t, and in that Hector deliberately makes it not funny (a long doleful look at his suit; the disappointment in his eyes when he sees that he is not splattered with mud), this simple trick alters the mood of the film. As night falls, we see him returning to his house. He goes in, climbs the stairs to the second floor, and enters his children’s bedroom. The little girl and the little boy are asleep, each one in a separate bed. He sits down beside the girl, studies her face for a few moments, and then lifts his hand to begin stroking her hair. Just as he is about to touch her, however, he stops himself, suddenly realizing that his hand could wake her, and if she woke up in the darkness and found no one there, she would be frightened. It’s an affecting sequence, and Hector plays it with restraint and simplicity. He has lost the right to touch his own daughter, and as we watch him hesitate and then finally withdraw his hand, we experience the full impact of the curse that has been put on him. In that one small gesture – the hand hovering in the air, the open palm no more than an inch from the girl’s head – we understand that Hector has been reduced to nothing.

  The screen fades to black. When the picture returns, it is morning, and daylight is flooding through the curtains. Cut to a shot of Hector’s wife, still asleep in bed. Then cut to Hector, asleep in the chair. His body is contorted into an impossible position, a comic tangle of splayed limbs and twisted joints, and because we aren’t prepared for the sight of this slumbering pretzel-man, we laugh, and with that laugh the mood of the film changes again. Dearest Beloved wakes first, and as she opens her eyes and sits up in bed her face tells us everything – moving rapidly from joy to disbelief to guarded optimism. She springs out of bed and rushes over to Hector. She touches his face (which is dangling backward over the arm of the chair), and Hector’s body goes into a spasm of high-voltage shocks, jumping around in a flurry of arms and legs that ultimately lands him in an upright position. Then he opens his eyes. Involuntarily, without seeming to remember that he is supposed to be invisible, he smiles at her. They kiss, but just as their lips come into contact, he recoils in confusion. Is he really there? Has the spell been broken, or is he only dreaming it? He touches his face, he runs his hands over his chest, and then he looks his wife in the eyes. Can you see me? he asks. Of course I can see you, she says, and as her eyes fill with tears, she leans forward and kisses him again. But Hector is not convinced. He stands up from his chair and walks forward to a mirror hanging on the wall. The proof is in the mirror, and if he is able to see his reflection, he will know that the nightmare is over. That he does see it is a foregone conclusion, but the beautiful thing about that moment is the slowness of his response. For a second or two, the expression on his face remains the same, and as he peers into the eyes of the man staring back at him from the wall, it’s as if he’s looking at a stranger, encountering a face he has never seen before. Then, as the camera moves in for a closer shot, Hector begins to smile. Coming on the heels of that chilling blankness, the smile suggests something more than a simple rediscovery of himself. He is no longer looking at the old Hector. He is someone else now, and however much he might resemble the person he used to be, he has been reinvented, turned inside-out, and spat forth as a new man. The smile grows larger, more radiant, more satisfied with the face that he has found in the mirror. A circle begins to close around it, and soon we can see nothing but that smiling mouth, the mouth and the mustache above it. The mustache twitches for a few seconds, and then the circle grows smaller, then smaller still. When it finally shuts, the film is over.

Advertisements

Movies in Literature Part 3: Leonard Cohen’s ‘Warning’

en-ws-invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-undefined-62

 

a-invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-undefined-11

 

bs18

 

                                        WARNING
                                                            from Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956)

                                        If your neighbour disappears
                                        O if your neighbour disappears
                                        The quiet man who raked his lawn
                                        The girl who always took the sun

                                        Never mention it to your wife
                                        Never say at dinnertime
                                        Whatever happened to that man
                                        Who used to rake his lawn

                                        Never say to your daughter
                                        As you’re walking home from church
                                        Funny thing about that girl
                                        I haven’t seen her for a month

                                       And if your son says to you
                                       Nobody lives next door
                                       They’ve all gone away
                                       Send him to bed with no supper

                                       Because it can spread, it can spread
                                       And one fine evening coming home
                                       Your wife and daughter and son
                                       They’ll have caught the idea and will be gone

King Vidor on European Films!

king-vidor-1931

 

I reprint below an interview with King Vidor on European cinema. It’s taken from Close Up, a ‘British’ film magazine written from 1927 – 1933 for an ‘international’ audience (which, of course, means Western Europe and America – copies were sold in Paris, Berlin, London, Geneva, New York and LA.) The magazine’s editor Kenneth MacPherson was British and lived in Switzerland and the magazine had foreign correspondents in each city in which it was sold, as well as in Moscow. 

Close Up is highly critical of the American dominance of the global marketplace and often displays blatant anti-Americanism – as when its editor states that ‘damp and treacly’ ‘American sentiment’ is horrible for the ‘European mind’ but is alright for Americans who are ‘naive’, ‘adolescent’ and ‘unsophisticated. Nevertheless the magazine is at the same time not uninterested in Hollywood and can also include some quite rational and interesting reflections on the relationship between European cinema(s) and Hollywood. 

Close Up didn’t need to make a profit since it was funded by MacPherson’s wealthy wife Winifred Bryher, who also funded his only film Borderline. We can therefore assume that sales to America and foreign correspondents not being necessary for commercial success, rather point to an editorial interest in American cinema culture, even if mainly as an antithesis to the great ‘art’ cinema coming from Russia and Germany. 

A particularly likable example I found is of a letter from an American reader who writes to offer Close Up ‘all the ecouragement I can in your venture’ as well as a few corrections of the magazine’s position on America. The latter include the fact that ‘Griffith is not producing much now, and we can see pictures that were shown 10-12-15 years ago’, due to the nation’s size keeping the films in circulation, a reference to Close Up‘s ambitions for cinemas in Europe that would play older films. The writer also notes that the eyelashes of Greta Garbo, who had moved to America by this point, were not sewn on, as Close Up had previously stated. 

The magazine’s interest in American cinema had a lot to do with the wish to compare or contrast it to European cinema. The interview I am reprinting below is with King Vidor and was published in Close Up in October 1928. It takes an opposing view to the mainstream position of criticising Europeans cinemas for trying to copy the Hollywood model. It seems to me that the wish to print the views of an American on the state of cinema in Europe shows a willingness to accept a multiplicity of opinions on cinema and an openness to debate. Here’s the interview in full:

*****

KING VIDOR ON EUROPEAN FILMS

 European producers, instead of competing with American films on a straight production basis, are fighting for supremacy with freak and futuristic screen experiments.

 This was the finding of King Vidor, noted director, who studied the foreign production field during his extensive trip abroad.

 “The foreign producers are more courageous and making more headway than in the past,” Vidor observed. “This progress, however, has not been from a solid foundation of sound production methods as was the development of the film industry in America.

 “There are any number of ‘little theatre’ movements to be encountered, and it is in these houses that the unique productions being made abroad are to be found. I saw one in which the entire story was told in close-ups, a daring experiment that is admirable, in effort, but scarcely to be considered anything more than a very well done novelty. Others were done along similar lines, the producer attempting to strike upon some unusual camera work or treatment as an outstanding feature.

 “All of these pioneer steps are laudable and hold much promise. They are interesting and worthy of the attempt. But as earnest competition to American films they are woefully lacking.

 “It is apparent that the foreign producers are not trying to match their products with those of American producers. They have not built up their organizations and concentrated for their actual benefit upon straight productions. They are more intent, it seems, upon a cinematic fishing expedition that might net something worth while, but in all probability will be quite unproductive.

 “In my opinion the chief fault with the foreign producing market is that they appear reluctant to invest sufficient capital in their films to make really good productions. They cannot seem to see what enormous returns they can obtain from such investments by making good pictures. These ‘arty’ efforts are splendid, and often show strokes of genius. But they will not and cannot make money. And unless pictures make enough money to justify the tremendous financial outlay the producers cannot weld together a strong organization.

 “Another thing I noticed abroad is that while films are very popular, yet there are a great number of people who seldom find time to go to the picture theatres. With this great potential audience yet to be educated to screen entertainment it would seem that the foreign production market would have a very happy opportunity to expand and enlarge upon their production methods.

 “There is plenty of room in the film field for the foreign producer. There is no cause of any jealousy on this point. Better pictures raise the standards of the entire industry regardless as to who makes them.”

 Vidor, who directed The Big Parade and The Crowd, as well as Show People, soon to be released with Marion Davies and William Haines co-starring, expressed a desire to make a film abroad.

 There are many ideal location possibilities, he said, that can only be found in Southern Europe, where many towns remain to-day as they were hundreds of years ago. Such an atmosphere, he declared, defies reproduction and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Snow in London!

imgp0161

imgp0165

imgp0162

 

Ok, so some readers might not get the point of this post.. Suffice it to say we don’t get much snow here in London. And it gave me a day free which I chose to use in indulging a few little pleasures. These included a couple of pints in a local pub and the chance to take some photos of the miracle (in my back garden) and video footage (which I hope to show soon..) I also took the chance to dip into Pierre Bayard’s fascinating How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read and re-watch Charles Vidor’s marvellous Gilda (1946), both of which left many thoughts milling around in my brain, that I hope to engage with later too.. Isn’t snow lovely!

Early Ingrid Bergman at the Bfi Southbank

ingrid_foto

 

A few weeks ago now (2nd January) I was lucky enough to attend screenings of two very early Swedish-language Ingrid Bergman films, at a mini-season of her films at London’s own Bfi Southbank – with my good friend Christian Hayes. One of these was The Count of the Old Town (1934/5) and seems to have been her first role, although IMDb suggests she played, uncredited, a ‘girl waiting in line’ in a film before this. At any rate it’s her first starring role, at the age of 19. Although she doesn’t seem to be quite an actress yet her star presence is there in spades; I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be able to see the star of Notorious (1946) at the outset, finding her feet.

I’m actually someone who came to the concept of the star persona relatively late, in that I didn’t feel it as an instinct as a child or even as a teenager: first I was fascinated simply by the stories and characters, then by the “art” of the films, focusing on the director. In my early twenties something clicked. There were stars before Ingrid but I think it was the double-whammy of her alongside Cary Grant in Notorious that did it for me. Notorious was my favourite Hitch for a long while, which had as much to do with the Ingrid/Cary combo as with Hitch.. 

In The Count of the Old Town Bergman plays a hotel maid. Our first sight of her is through a slightly ajar door, half-dressed. And this is from the point-of-view of a handsome young man who convinces her to let him hide in her room, away from the cops.

Her face really does light up the screen. Because it’s the very start of her career (as well as partly because I think ordinary films can have a tendency to do this), it feels, watching this, as though you’re getting a pure, unfiltered version of her personality.. Well anyway I took from the film a sense that although at times Bergman came across a little Joan Fontaine-insipid, her true character appeared full of tenderness and inner strength. Here’s a picture from the film that maybe illustrates this:

the_count_of_the_old_town

In many ways The Count of the Old Town is a fairly ordinary film- although it does have a number of nice, offbeat characters. It’s a little like the folksy atmosphere of a provincial Renoir picture in a way.. The eponymous Count is a drunk and hangs out with another drunk called Cucumber, so-called because this was what he used to get hold of for people on the blackmarket in a time of rationing. There’s some storyline about diamonds being stolen and the police searching for the thief, but thankfully nobody on the film seems to be paying too much attention to the plot. Instead we have a whole host of wonderful character actors filling out a lovely little movie.

The film has, really, one scene that plucks it out of the ordinary which involves our hero, again hiding from the cops, dressed in an incredible beetle-suit that covers him and has a flap covering his face that he can open, to take a look-out. The costume has words on it that say something very strange I can’t quite remember, but which seemed to serve in an obscure way to mean something along the lines of “The End is Nigh”.. We then see him chased by a cop in this beetle-suit. I really can’t explain why this was so funny and seemed so absurd. I think it had to do with the way that he actually looked like a life-sized beetle, being chased down the streets, his feet the only visible human element- it really felt like the spirit of Kafka had taken this otherwise fairly ordinary movie completely unaware. 

walpurgisnight1935dvdr

The other movie we saw that night is one I highly recommend: Walpurgis Night (1935.) It stars not only Bergman but the great Victor Sjostrom – yes, another double-whammy actor movie. The film is set around the Spring Festival of the title, which comes about once a year (and which Wikipedia tells me was named, back in the 8th century, after a woman called Walpurga, who, bizarrely, hailed from Devon.) Anyway, Ingrid’s father (Sjostrom) in the film runs a newspaper and, an old romantic, insists on covering the Spring Festival rather than all the more juicy stories around about celebrities and murders. He’s weary of the falsity of the business, particularly critical of his colleagues’ pretense towards engagement with serious political issues, when they repeatedly take the side that’ll sell.

Meanwhile Ingrid is leaving her boss because she’s secretly in love with him – and he’s married. The scene is incredibly touching and the silent love between the pair is undoubtable – maintained throughout a long scene in which everything said is cosmetic alongside those impassioned looks. At times Ingrid seems really a silent movie actress – here she brings an absolutely palpable emotional impact to this scene, through her carefully nuanced movements and gestures, and her eyes. Needless to say he convinces her to come out to the Spring Festival; they’re photographed and when daddy gets shown the photo he buys it, so as to cover up the story.

The title would seem to imply the film’s status as a romantic comedy. Indeed Walpurgis Night opens with a Lubitsch-esque scene as we see a line of mothers with identical prams, one of which has newspapers in it. Cut to the newspaper office and a debate about lack of housing, which Sjostrom blames on young couples being selfish, having kids and taking all the houses! Yet the film swiftly deepens. The story is strong, touching on complex areas such as abortion and suicide with the kind of maturity rarely seen in Hollywood. But it is the performances of Ingrid and Sjostrom, their development of a constantly changing father-daughter relationship, that make the film something special. While Ingrid develops her character silently in a seamless transition from small and modest girl into poised, solemn young woman, Sjostrom gives his performance conviction through a development of his voice alongside his physical performance as a direct extension of his character’s enveloping physical rage. 

I should be headed out to a couple more Ingrid movies tonight – tho Hollywood movies this time round. I’d really love it if somewhere would show more of these early Swedish films of hers – they all sound pretty special.

beri005

Movies in Literature Part 2: John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (continued)

6a00d8341bffb053ef00e54f177da18833-500wi

 

John Steinbeck comes across as, like many writers, somewhat ambivalent about the value of cinema. The short sequence from Chapter 23 of The Grapes of Wrath quoted in the last post is, however, far from a blanket condemnation of cinema. It closes with the suggestion that the light entertainment offered by mainstream Hollywood cinema has a value in helping those that ‘git enough sorrow’ to ‘git away from it’. If you haven’t seen this yet I suggest checking this out here.

Nevertheless cinema surely loses the battle when pitted against oral storytelling, which is seen as connected to the people and to their Nation’s intricate, complex history. The difference is between two forms of ‘popular’ storytelling, the latter seen as following this word’s originary meaning, ‘of the people’, the former perhaps not so much..

The tale from the man who was a ‘recruit against Geronimo’ proposes a version of American history that we would not ordinarily hear – that of the sympathy that some soldiers apparently had for their Native American foe. The figure of the Native American man here seems intended as a point of identification for those suffering through the Depression. They likewise might have felt tall and strong like this ‘brave’ and yet had now been cut down ‘All tore to pieces an’ little.’ This identification is clear as the storyteller describes him as appearing to the soldiers ‘like a cross’, linking him to the Christian image of unjust sacrifice.

Steinbeck’s claim to a breaking-down of racial barriers through oral storytelling seems to serve in part as a means of differentiation of this form from cinema. Indeed this sympathy for the Native American, significantly, was absent from movie Westerns at this time. This notion of the importance and value of empathetic identification across barriers in a time of crisis, seen here, is central to this novel as a whole, where the principal barrier is not, however, race but that of class.. Steinbeck’s novel as a whole wants to show his characters as more than their poverty.. as human beings in a fuller sense than capitalism would dictate.

And it’s implied that movies on the Depression don’t offer this kind of empathy. While in the movie the rich couple are pretending to be poor, the poor guy who’s just seen the movie can’t remember the moral of the story – suggesting this was probably pretty banal. The Depression is seen to be exploited as a subject matter only in order to sell cinema-tickets.. It seems all the glamour of Hollywood remains intact in spite of the trouble that the rest of the US was facing.

Still, the paralleling of the ‘Injun’ and cinema as being both in someway bigger than us is intriguing. Perhaps it suggests that cinema has something innate within it that might still have some potential.. The potential to tell the kind of a big story that Steinbeck is trying to get at in his book..

By the by, I gather Steinbeck very much liked John Ford’s movie of the book. I recommend checking this out if you haven’t seen it yet..

Movies in Literature Part 2: John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’

dust_bowl_-_dallas_south_dakota_1936-21

 

This novel came out in 1939. Steinbeck was trying to write, as he put it, a ‘truly American book’ – to speak to the people, through the troubles of the Great Depression. It’s a wonderful piece on that time.. One thing I like about this book is the way that it attempts to offer a “universality” that could speak to everyone, while at the same time remaining dispersive in its writing style.. It doesn’t assume that the poorest people, who were generally the least educated, only want to hear a good story..

The sequence below is from Chapter 23 of The Grapes of Wrath. This chapter has no relation really to the novel’s “story” as such and instead has a meditative, essayistic feel – it weaves its way through various amusements of the migrants of the Depression, moving from oral storytelling to cinema, then on to drunkenness, music, sex and religion. I’m quoting just the bits on storytelling and cinema – if you’d like to read the full chapter, please follow the link after..

*****

  The migrant people, scuttling for work, scrabbling to live, looked always for pleasure, dug for pleasure, manufactured pleasure, and they were hungry for amusement. Sometimes amusement lay in speech, and they climbed up their lives with jokes. And it came about in the camps along the roads, on the ditch banks beside the streams, under the sycamores, that the story teller grew into being, so that the people gathered in the low firelight to hear the gifted ones. And they listened while the tales were told, and their participation made the stories great.

  I was a recruit against Geronimo-

  And the people listened, and their quiet eyes reflected the dying fire.

  Them Injuns was cute – slick as snakes, an’ quiet when they wanted. Could go through dry leaves, an’ make no rustle. Try to do that sometimes.

  And the people listened and remembered the crash of dry leaves under their feet.

  Come the change of season an’ the clouds up. Wrong time. Ever hear of the army doing anything right? Give the army ten chances, an’ they’ll stumble along. Took three regiments to kill a hundred braves- always.

  And the people listened, and their faces were quiet with listening. The story tellers, gathering attention into their tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because the tales were great, and the listeners became great through them.

  They was a brave on a ridge, against the sun. Knowed he stood out. Spread his arms an’ stood. Naked as morning, an’ against the sun. Maybe he was crazy. I don’ know. Stood there, arms spread out; like a cross he looked. Four hunderd yards. An’ the men- well, they raised their sights an’ they felt the wind with their fingers; an’ then they jus’ lay there an’ couldn’ shoot. Maybe that Injun knowed somepin. Knowed we couldn’ shoot. Jes’ laid there with the rifles cocked, an’ didn’ even put ’em to our shoulders. Lookin’ at him. Headband, one feather. Could see it, an’ naked as the sun. Long time we laid there an’ looked, an’ he never moved. An’ then the captain got mad. “Shoot, you crazy bastards, shoot!” he yells. An’ we jus’ laid there. “I’ll give you to a five-count, an’ then mark you down,” the captain says. Well sir- we put up our rifles slow, an’ ever’ man hoped somebody’d shoot first. I ain’t never been so sad in my life. An’ I laid my sights on his belly, ’cause you can’t stop a Injun no other place- an’- then. Well, he jest plunked down an’ rolled. An’ we went up. An’ he wasn’t big- he’d looked so grand- up there. All tore to pieces an’ little. Ever see a cock pheasant, stiff and beautiful, ever’ feather drawed an’ painted, an’ even his eyes drawed in pretty? An’ bang! You pick him up- bloody an’ twisted, an’ you spoiled somepin better’n you; an’ eatin’ him don’t never make it up to you, ’cause you spoiled somepin in yaself, an’ you can’t never fix it up.

  And the people nodded, and perhaps the fire spurted a little light and showed their eyes looking in on themselves.

  Against the sun, with his arms out. An’ he looked big- as God.

  And perhaps a man balanced twenty cents between food and pleasure, and he went to a movie in Marysville or Tulare, in Ceres or Mountain View. And he came back to the ditch camp with his memory crowded. And he told how it was:

  They was this rich fella, an’ he makes like he’s poor, an’ they’s this rich girl, an’ she purtends like she’s poor too, an’ they meet in a hamburg’ stan’.

  Why?

  I don’t know why- that’s how it was.

  Why’d they purtend like they’s poor?

  Well, they’re tired of bein’ rich.

  Horseshit!

  You want to hear this, or not?

  Well, go on then. Sure. I wanta hear it, but if I was rich, if I was rich I’d git so many pork chops- I’d cord ’em up aroun’ me like wood, an’ I’d eat my way out. Go on.

  Well, they each think the other one’s poor. An’ they git arrested an’ they git in jail, an’ they don’t git out ’cause the other one’d find out the first one is rich. An’ the jail keeper, he’s mean to ’em ’cause he thinks they’re poor. Oughta see how he looks when he finds out. Jes’ nearly faints, that’s all.

  What they git in jail for?

  Well, they git caught at some kind a radical meetin’ but they ain’t radicals. They jes’ happen to be there. An’ they don’t each one wanta marry fur money, ya see.

  So the sons-of-bitches start lyin’ to each other right off.

  Well, in the pitcher it was like they was doin’ good. They’re nice to people, you see.

  I was to a show oncet that was me, an’ more’n me; an’ my life, an’ more’n my life, so ever’thing was bigger.

  Well, I git enough sorrow. I like to git away from it.

  Sure- if you can believe it.

  So they got married, an’ they foun’ out, an’ all them people that’s treated ’em mean. They was a fella had been uppity, an’ he nearly fainted when this fella come in with a plug hat on. Jes’ nearly fainted. An’ they was a newsreel with them German soldiers kickin’ up their feet- funny as hell.

*****

My reading of this sequence can be found here.

The full text of the novel can be found here.