The Last Gentleman: A Novel
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Will Barrett is a 25-year-old wanderer from the South living in New York City, detached from his roots and with no plans for the future, until the purchase of a telescope sets off a romance and changes his life forever.
some of which were converted to tiny churches by tacking on two square towers and covering the whole with brick paper. He sat on a trough which was choked with dry leaves and still exhaled the faint sunny tart smell of summer, and studied the Esso map, peering closely at the Gulf Coast, New Orleans, Houston, and points west. It came over him suddenly that he didn’t live anywhere and had no address. As he began to go through his pockets he spied a new outdoor phone in a yellow plastic shell—and
does not pertain to your salvation. That is to say, your amnesia is not a symptom. So you say: Here is the piece of news you have been waiting for, and you tell him. What does Barrett do? He attends in that eager flattering way of his and at the end of it he might even say yes! But he will receive the news from his high seat of transcendence as one more item of psychology, throw it into his immanent meat-grinder, and wait to see if he feels better. He told me he’s in favor of the World’s Great
difference. Don’t treat a lady like a whore or a whore like a lady.” “No sir, I won’t.” The record ended but the eccentric groove did not trip the mechanism. The boy half rose. “If you do one, then you’re going to be like them, a fornicator and not caring. If you do the other, you’ll be like them, fornicator and hypocrite.” He opened his eyes. Now standing in the civil public darkness of the park, he snapped his fingers softly as if he were trying to remember something. Then what happened
the men—Ree was just getting to the men. What do the men do, Ree?” “I really couldn’t say,” said Rita, rising abruptly and leaving the room. “Tie a knot for me,” said the engineer. “What,” cried Kitty, craning her neck and searching the horizon like a sea bird. “Oh.” “Let us now—” he began and sought dizzily to hold her charms in his arms. “Ah,” said the girl, lying passive, eyes full of light. “I’ve reached a decision,” he said and leaned back uncomfortably among the pillows, head in the
nose, which was already swollen and tender from hay fever. Oh, hideous exploding humiliating goddamnable nose pain, the thump-thud of woe itself. Oh, ye bastards all together. “Come here,” he thought he heard himself say as he struggled to get at the alpiner—did he hit him?—but the next thing he knew he was sitting on the front steps enveloped by the dreadful cordiality of misunderstandings cleared away, of debits to be balanced. The bastards, friends and foe, were all apologizing to each other.