warm and sweet
Posted on November 29, 2008
He did not remember. He did not remember clearly whether the milk was warm or cool at his last feeding or how the days passed — there was only his crib and Nana’s familiar presence. And then he remembered nothing. When he was hungry he cried — that was all. Through the noons and nights he breathed and over him there were soft mumblings and murmurings that he scarcely heard, and faintly differentiated smells, and light and darkness.
Then it was all dark, and his white crib and the dim faces that moved above him, and the warm sweet aroma of the milk, faded out altogether from his mind.
I take a lot of shit from my more educated and higher class friends, and from my grittier lit friends as well, for my absolute, unrepentant and, I’ll admit, embarrassingly emotional, devotion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know he goes too far, I know he pushes the language and sentiment and the ambition of his sentences beyond limits, but, I mean, goddamit, sometimes he just takes off and leaves us all behind down here on earth, too. And those times are worth whatever problems other people might point out to me. It’s a little bit like my appreciation of Sonny Rollins, who a jazz purist — a strict Coltrane man — told me was always ruined by his affinity for throwing little jokey strains right into the flow of a serious bit, or to push a solo too far, or something else I can’t remember. But those are things I like Rollins for . . . I am glad not to know too much about art, music, writing, life.
This is the last graph of Fitzy’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which I suppose has been on my mind because it’s about to be released as a Brad Pitt movie, and because my friends Mike and Erica are new parents with a baby full of life, and because I’m trying to start writing something that needs an end, and because who knows why else. Here’s another great F. Scott sentence, from earlier in the same story: “A full moon drenched the road to the lustreless color of platinum, and late-blooming harvest flowers breathed into the motionless air aromas that were like low, half-heard laughter.” And, in a different way, this one, which uses a little purposeful repetitive tick of his I like: “It was almost impossible not to be affected by the sheer beauty of the day — almost.”
In the final sentence of that final graph, I like how there’s no comma between warm and sweet, so it’s not merely warm milk that is sweet, but warm milk with a sweetness that is also warm. But mostly, I like how much if feels like an end for an 80-year-old infant.