Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Girls of Slender Means

 Many strange arms were twined round strange bodies. Many liaisons, some permanent, were formed in the night, and numerous infants of experimental variety, delightful in hue of skin and racial structure, were born to the world in the due cycle of nine months after. The bells pealed. Greggie observed that it was something between a wedding and a funeral on a world scale. The next day everyone began to consider where they personally stood in the new order of things. Many citizens felt the urge, which some began to indulge, to insult each other, in order to prove something or to test their ground. The government reminded the public that it was still at war. Officially this was undeniable, but except to those whose relations lay in the Far Eastern prisons of war, or
were stuck in Burma, that war was generally felt to be a remote affair. A few shorthand-typists at the May of Teck Club started to apply for safer jobs—that is to say, in private concerns, not connected with the war like the temporary Ministries where many of them had been employed. Their brothers and men-friends in the forces, not yet de-mobilised, by a long way, were talking of vivid enterprises for the exploitation of peace, such as buying a lorry and building up from it a transport business.

from the novel by Muriel Spark.

How spare this is and pinned together with articles of faith and suggestions of grace earned, evil salted in youth and what I imagine is supposed to be spasmodic holiness. Absolutely inchoately devout, her sentences ring with dispassionate observation. That combination is unnerving.... but the taut length and her playful plot make the novel buoyant and memorable.

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