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May 10, 2011

[book] the autograph man

have you read [the autograph man] by zadie smith? i can't believe i haven't until now. 
i am almost done with it and i am completely in love. 
the main character, alex-li reminds me of a certain holden caulfield - 
just in the way they are both completely un-lovable and lovable, 
sometimes in the same breath. 

you'll laugh out loud:

[and now here are some facts. when queen victoria first met albert she wasn't really all that smitten. 
she was sixteen. he was her cousin. they got on well enough, but it was not what you would call a 
lightning/fireworks situation. there years later, however, and suddenly he was right up her street. it 
was love at second sight. she was queen by then. it's hard to tell whether that's a significant fact in 
the story of how victoria fell in love with albert the second time she met him rather than the first like 
most people would if they were intending to fall in love suddenly. what can be said for sure is that 
after this second visit, victoria describes albert in her diary as "excessively handsome, such 
beautiful eyes... my heart is quite going," and then proposes to him, which seems fairly fresh to us 
with our ideas about the victorians and how un-fresh they were. and then they went and had nine 
children, which seems rather more than fresh. to process the nine-children fact you have to, at 
some point, imagine victoria as pretty fresh in the bedroom, and that takes some doing. but still, 
the facts are the facts. here's another one: after albert dies, victoria continues to have his razor 
and shaving bowl-filled to the brim with hot water-brought in every morning to their bedroom as 
if he were in a position to remove facial hair. she wears black for forty years. these days, there is 
most likely a name for that sort of thing. something like: excessive grief syndrome (egs). but in the 
late nineteenth century, with a few exceptions, most people were still prepared to call it love. "ah, 
how she loved him," they say to each other, shaking their heads and buying posies for tuppence a 
bag in covent garden or somewhere. a lot of things that are syndromes now had simpler names 
back then. it was a simpler time. that's why some people like to call them the good old days.]

this part is just a story within the book, but it was too beautiful not to share. 
let me know what you think.

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