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Coming Through Slaughter

Posted to What Are You Reading?

Perhaps the most satisfying read that I've had in the last six months was "Coming Through Slaughter", by Micheal Ondaatje. It is a fictional (mixed with fact) account of Jazz in New Orleans just after the turn of the last century. The writing is incredibly intuitive and image-ridden. Incidentally, Ondaatje also wrote a great novel entitled "In the Skin of a Lion", and followed that with "The English Patient" (much better than the movie).

"The woman is cutting carrots. Each carrot is split into 6 or 7 pieces. The knife slides through and hits the wood table that they will eat off later. He is watching the coincidence of her fingers and the carrots. It began with the colour of the fingers and then the slight veins on the carrot magnified themselves to his eyes. In this area of sight the fingers have separated themselves from her body and move in a unity of their own that stops at the sleeve and bangle. As with all skills he watches for it to fail. If she thinks what she is doing she will lose control. He knows that the only way to catch a fly for instance is to move the hand without the brain telling it to move fast, interfering. The silver knife curves calm and fast against carrots and fingers. Onto the cuts in the table's brown flesh."

-Coming Through Slaughter, Michael Ondaatje.