Monday, 7 February 2011

On becoming an adult

This morning - well, I say this morning as that was when I first read it myself, but Megan read it aloud to me yesterday - I read a rather wonderful passage about discovering one is an adult in Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine. This is the first of his books I've read, and I'm amazed by his ability to perceive his own perplexities, celebrate and inform on the most minute detail of them, and still be slightly disappointed not to have grander ones. He's fantastically laugh-out-loud funny, and the subject of the humour is always himself, in a warm shake-of-the-head "aren't I odd" sort of way.

Anyway, here it is:

"And this was when I realized abruptly that as of that minute (impossible to say exactly which minute), I had finished with whatever large-scale growth I was going to have as a human being, and that I was now permanently arrested at an intermediate stage of personal development. I did not move of flinch or make any outward sign. Actually, once the first shock of raw surprise had passed, the feeling was not unpleasant. I was set: I was the sort of person who said "actually" too much. I was the sort of person who stood in a subway car and thought about buttering toast - buttering rain toast, even: when the high, crisp scrape of the butter knife is muted by the occasional contact with the soft, heat-blimped forms of the raisins, and when if you cut across a raisin, it will sometimes fall right out, still intact though dented, as you life the slice. I was the sort of person whose biggest discoveries were likely to be tricks to applying toiletries while fully dressed. I was a man, but I was not nearly the magnitude of man I had hoped I might be."

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