September 24, 2012

rules of civility by amor towles

I finished this book over a week ago 
but I knew that I needed to have it with me so I could write about it.

Why?

Because this book is pretty close to perfect.

It's the story of Katey Kontent.
that's Kontent
not 
Content.

In 1937, she lives in NYC 
and she works as an office clerk.

On the last night of 1937, she meets Tinker Grey.
The meeting alters her life completely
both immediately
and further down the road.

The writing in this book is wonderful.
Really, really wonderful
Katey is someone we all wish we could be
smart and capable but with some sass.

Her lines made me laugh out loud at times and passages like this, well, I can't imagine it being better said: 

"No matter how much you think of yourself, no matter how long you've lived in Hollywood or Hyde Park, a brown Bentley is going to catch your eye. There couldn't be more than a few hundred of them in the world and every aspect is designed with envy in mind. The fenders rise over the wheels and drop to the running boards in the wide, lazy curve of an odalisque at rest, while the white walls of the tires look as improbably spotless as the spats on Fred Astaire. You can just tell that whoever is sitting in the backseat has the wherewithal to grant your wishes in threes.
...The windows of the passenger compartment were tinted so that you couldn't see who was inside. As I watched the reflection of the masses drifting by, the window rolled down.
-- Shiver me timbers, I said
 --Hey, Sis. Where you headed?
-- I was just thinking of going down to the Battery to throw myself off the pier.
-- Can it wait?
--What does this rig turn into at midnight?
-- An artichoke.

But it's not just chortle inducing.
The descriptions are so clean and sweet
" It's a bit of a cliche to refer to someone as a chameleon: a person who can change his colors from environment to environment. In fact, not one in a million can do that. But there are tens of thousands of butterlies: men and women like Eve with two dramatically different colorings - on which serves to attract and the other which serves to camouflage - and which can be switched at the instant with a flit of the wings."

I kept turning down the corners of pages that I wanted to remember.
I even underlined a few passages.

To make it even better,
each chapter has a Walker Evans photo to start it off.
I love Walker Evans.



He did a series of portraits of passengers on the subway.
They are candid and wonderful
and I kept thinking as I looked at each one
that while the fashions have changed, the expressions have not.
People don't really want to be on the subway
but they have to get to where they are going somehow.

I would recommend this book.
Oh yes indeedy,
And now it's available in softcover so it won't even cost you much.

It's now on my list of favorites.
I was sad when I finished it
but I savored every bite.


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