The Blood Oranges: A Novel (New Directions Paperbook)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
No synopsis or comparison can convey the novel's lyric comedy or, indeed, its sinister power―sinister because of the strength of will Cyril exerts over his wife, his mistress, his wife's reluctant lover; lyric, since he is also a “sex-singer" in the land where music is the food of love.
"Need I insist that the only enemy of the mature marriage is monogamy? That anything less than sexual multiplicity . . . is naive? That our sexual selves are merely idylers in a vast wood?" Thus the central theme of John Hawkes's widely acclaimed novel The Blood Oranges is boldly asserted by its narrator, Cyril, the archetypal multisexualist. Likening himself to a white bull on Love's tapestry, he pursues his romantic vision in a primitive Mediterranean landscape. There two couples―Cyril and Fiona, Hugh and Catherine―mingle their loves in an "lllyria" that brings to mind the equally timeless countryside of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
and packed like a nest of mud with the sightless snails. In both hands she scooped them up and, while I steadied the pot, dropped them covered with flecks and strings of fresh mud into the warm hole of the pot. Then I laughed, reached into the pot with my large white hand, frayed cuff and golden cuff link (anniversary gift from Fiona), seized one of the snails and pulled it out quickly and smashed it against the cream-colored grainy side of the pot. “That’s what they look like, Rosella. Smell?”
harm. But I could sit on the wall and did so, lit one of my precious puffy cigarettes that smelled of nitrates, burning paper, animal stains, sex. In my mouth and nose I bottled up that smoke, that tumultuous pungent smoke of the cigarette of my tragedy and good humor. And thanks to burning lips, burning eyes, thick golden cough, yesterday I was best able to study Catherine feigning sleep in the same hot woolly blanket that Fiona used to spread across our bed on cold nights in the villa. I
inevitably relieved their bowels in all the ruined crypts of the world and that the smell struck some kind of chord in other men but to women was merely distasteful. What then of Fiona’s earlier asssertion of her love for the places of masculinity? Was that particular love of hers unqualified? The smell of the offal and Fiona’s sudden silences were the first indications that it was not. “Well,” I heard myself saying, “we’re like a bunch of kids.” “Speak for yourself, boy.” “At least you could
progress into this stone shaft. Silent, subdued and yet attentive, relieved and yet immobile, unemotional, touching each other and yet unmotivated by our usual feelings of mutual affection—for one brief somber moment we stared out toward the vacancy, the sheer distance, the brilliant timeless expanse of sea and air. Hugh had hiked himself as best he could into one corner of the empty aperture and was a grainy and rigid silhouette leering seaward. The scantness of Fiona’s tennis dress was pressing
and distant fortress, I felt a splash, and suddenly Fiona’s wet face was next to mine. “Baby, baby, baby, what can we do?” NEED I INSIST THAT THE ONLY ENEMY OF THE MATURE marriage is monogamy? That anything less than sexual multiplicity (body upon body, voice on voice) is naïve? That our sexual selves are merely idylers in a vast wood? What is marriage if not a vast and neutral forest in which our own sexual selves and those of our first partners wander until momentarily stopped in the clear