Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot enough for you...?

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Well, folks, I don’t know about where you are, but right here, it’s HOT. So … when you think about “hot reading,” what does that make you think of? Beach reading? Steamy romances? Books that take place in hot climates? Or cold ones?

It's hot here too and that doesn't lead me to think of a particular genre but rather of just one book and one scene in that book:
The next day was broiling, almost the last, certainly the warmest, of the summer. As my train emerged from the tunnel into sunlight, only the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon. The straw seats of the car hovered on the edge of combustion; the woman next to me perspired delicately for a while into her white shirtwaist and then, as her newspaper dampened under her fingers, lapsed despairingly into deep heat with a desolate cry. Her pocket-book slapped to the floor.

"Oh my!" she gasped.

I picked it up with a weary bend and handed it back to her holding it at arm's length and by the extreme tip of the corners to indicate that I had no designs upon it - but every one near by, including the woman, suspected me just the same.

[...]

"The master's body!" roared the butler into the mouthpiece. "I'm sorry Madame but we can't furnish it - it's far too hot to touch this noon!"

What he really said was "Yes,...Yes...I'll see."

He set down the receiver and came toward us, glistening slightly, to take our stiff straw hats.

"Madame expects you in the salon!" he cried, needlessly indicating the direction. In this heat every extra gesture was an affront to the common store of life.

The room, shadowed well with awnings, was dark and cool. Daisy and Jordan lay upon an enormous couch, like silver idols, weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fans.

"We can't move," they said together.

Jordan's fingers, powdered white over their tan, rested for a moment in mine.

"And Mr. Thomas Buchanan, the athlete?" I inquired. Simultaneously I heard his voice, gruff, muffled, husky, at the hall telephone.

Gatsby stood in the center of the crimson carpet and gazed around with fascinated eyes. Daisy watched him and laughed her sweet exciting laugh; a tiny gust of powder rose from her bosom into the air.

"The rumor is," whispered Jordan, "that that's Tom's girl on the telephone."

If you hadn't realized it at first, you have probably figured out by now that this is from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. It is THE hot scene in a novel, in my estimation. As I was walking in the 103 degree heat last week, I thought of Daisy and Jordan lying on their sofa with the fans whirring saying, "it's too hot to move." Later they all decide to drive into town (New York City) and go to the Plaza Hotel and Daisy wants to "hire five bathrooms and take cold baths," and that turns into an idea to have mind juleps. The heat, not only of the weather, but of the story with Daisy's dangerous affair with Gatsby coming to the boiling point. Such a fantastic book; there are scenes in it I can touch they are so real to me, and this is one of them.

10 comments:

Gramma Ann said...

I take it you like a hot steamy read in summer. ; )

Have a happy reading day.

C.B. James said...

It is hot enough for me. I'm going into New York tomorrow. Maybe I'll visit The Plaza Hotel myself. A bath there sounds like a good idea.

Kristin said...

I haven't read The Great Gatsby since high school, but I have this on my list to reread.

Here's my answer.

gautami tripathy said...

I had forgotten these. Thanks for reminding. I will re-read it again!

Here is my "hot" post!

moorebloglife said...

What a great way to set the tone for this weeks discussion and the Great Gatsby was a great title to use!

Ted said...

Gramma - I wouldn't say I LIKE it, but that weather does lead me to this narrative!

CB - That might be an expensive bath! Enjoy my wonderful city. If you need a restaurant rec or what have you, shoot me an email.

Kristin - It's on mine too.

Gautami - I'm not sure what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but I am imagining that our hot my be your temperate.

Moorebloglife - This is a great work, but such approachable fiction too. Love the GG.

Cam said...

...like silver idols, weighing down their own white dresses against the singing breeze of the fans.. This is one of my favorite lines in this book. I think of it often, when it is very hot, or when I see someone who is very much like Daisy. Thanks for sharing this. It was very hot here today -in the 90s, but drop nearly 20 degrees after a storm. Typical Midwestern weather, though not sure that it compares to that squalid heat of the City, which envelopes you with such intensity that you can almost feel all the grime from the street pressed into your skin and baked.

Ted said...

Cam - Sounds like we have a similar relationship to this passage. I think my least favorite thing about a NYC summer are the subway platforms. Yuck.

Isabella said...

Beautiful!

(Subway platforms?! What about inside the subway cars? I think that's the only thing I don't like about Montreal in summer.)

Ted said...

Isabella - Actually most nyc subway cars are airconditioned in the summer, in fact, most are airconditioned to death. They're freezing. So first you sweat on the platform and then your teeth chatter when you get on the train!