BookWalk #2 – Invisible Furies – Michiel Heyns
He unpacked the all-purpose supply of clothing he had considered adequate for Paris in May, though of course nothing he owned was really adequate for Paris. (p. 11) – Christopher Turner returns to Paris on a quest, no better prepared than he was on his previous visit, thirty years before.
Christopher was about to put down the phone – he had no intention of leaving a message – when a brusque voice cut in with a businesslike Oui? (p. 36) – Paris clearly has no intention of helping Christopher on his quest.
Christopher was never sure, with Americans, whether the interrogative rise at the end of a sentence signalled a true question or just an unassertive way of stating a proposition. (p. 64) – It takes expats to move Christopher’s quest forward, as the discretion of Parisians seems to verge on catatonia.
Eric de Villiers clearly excited interest wherever he went, if two American, one Swede and an Argentinean could be taken as a representative sample. (p. 78) – When Christopher eventually locates Eric, he finds a man “immeasurably improved” not only in appearance but also in attitude and behaviour. Too good to be true?
“You were ogling, but you needn’t beg my pardon for that. Or Beatrice du Plessis’s pardon. She’s used to being ogled.” (p. 103) – Christopher finds himself surrounded by beautiful creatures and the men and women who feed off their beauty.
Some bystanders were commenting animatedly on the proceedings, and Christopher felt thoroughly exposed; and yet, he felt, there were worse situations to be caught in than being wrapped in silk by a black Dobermann. (p. 129) – In the world of haute couture, the object of one’s affection can so easily become an accessory.
“Ah, you English,” Fabrice growled. “Your language is so insipid, you have to invent words you do not know the meaning of.” (p. 156) – A world where brutal honesty is used to conceal darker secrets.
Their loyalties were a thing of the past, as were their betrayals. (p. 193) – And yet this shifting, unpredictable moral landscape offers greater freedom to reassess one’s own position.
It was as if they both knew that between them they had not yet arrived at a frankness that both of them wanted, yet were wary of. It was a question of who would take the initiative, and along what lines. (p. 213) – The knowledge of failures, shortcoming and fears becomes a carefully guarded social currency.
Under the mild glow of the chandelier, Eric shone gold; and on this face, as he emerged from Gloriani’s greeting, was a smile of such candour and joy as to constitute a motion of confidence in his host, in the gathering as a whole, in the evening: whoever else is here, it seemed to say, will be delightful, and my mere presence will make them more delightful still. Adapted to his environment, yes, but at the same to so constituted as to form a defining part of that environment. (p. 254) – A world defying easy interpretation, where the truth changes shape as often as the person telling it.
“I can recognise potential in unpromising material. I cannot, how do you say, make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but I can make a very good Moroccan leather wallet, which is after all more serviceable than a silk purse.” (p. 285) – The experts take pride in their ability to reduce humanity to accessories, porte-monnaies, money-holders, cash cows.
(Michiel Heyns’ Invisible Furies is published by Jonathan Ball Publishers)