As I was going down those infamous stairs you were coming through the door, and for a second I saw your unfamiliar face and you saw me. Then I hid so you wouldn't see me again, and you hurried past me, hiding your face, and slipped inside the infamous house where you couldn't have found pleasure any more than I did.
And yet the love you were looking for, I had to give you; the love I was looking for - so your tired, suspect eyes implied - you had to give me. Our bodies sensed and sought each other; our blood and skin understood.
Of the Guardian's 1000 novels everyone must read, I have read a somewhat depressing 53. The list is broken up by genre. No surprises: my weakest genre was comedy, my strongest love. Life is very short and the canon grows faster than one can read. Comment with how many you've read. Winner wins a book from the list.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame Cakes and Ale - Or, the Skeleton in the Cupboard by W Somerset Maugham Thank You Jeeves by PG Wodehouse A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene A Time to Kill by John Grisham The King of Torts by John Grisham Cover Her Face by PD James A Taste for Death by PD James To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Great Expectations by Charles Dickens The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Persuasion by Jane Austen Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Possession by AS Byatt The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles The End of the Affair by Graham Greene Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham Atonement by Ian McEwan I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy Animal Farm by George Orwell The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Horace lends himself to endless reinvention. I've updated wine regions, cities, and idioms while translating his work. In his adaptation of the Pyrrha ode, Anthony Hecht brings in modern fashion slang making Pyrrha something of an uptown girl. I find this infinitely more appealing than the Milton version which reads as dated. I like how Anthony Lentin describes Pyrrha's style and grace in his preface to Horace's odes: "[her] liveliness and sophistication are purchased at cost of ephemerality and triviality." The Clairol and Gucci captures this spirit nicely. Ah, piranhas!
What well-heeled knuckle-head, straight from the unisex
Hairstylist and bathed in "Russian Leather," Dallies with you these late summer days, Pyrrha, In your expensive sublet? For whom do you Slip into something simple by, say, Gucci? The more fool he who has mapped out for himself The saline latitudes of incontinent grief. Dazzled though he be, poor dope, by the golden looks Your locks fetched up out of a bottle of Clairol, He will know that the wind changes, the smooth sailing Is done for, when the breakers wallop him broadside, When he's rudderless, dismasted, thoroughly swamped In that mindless rip-tide that got the best of me Once, when I ventured on your deeps, Piranha.
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa perfusus liquidis urget odoribus grato, Pyrrha, sub antro? cui flavam religas comam,
simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem mutatosque deos flebit et aspera nigris aequora ventis emirabitur insolens,
qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea, qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem sperat, nescius aurae fallacis! miseri, quibus
intemptata nites! me tabula sacer votiva paries indicat uvida suspendisse potenti vestimenta maris deo.