22 September 2019

Highlights from 'What Belongs to You'

Greenwell, Garth. What Belongs to You. Picador, 2016.

A personal background

Garth Greenwell slipped into my radar fairly recently. My excitement rose when I read this interview where he talks about his upcoming second book, Cleanness, which is connected to his debut novel, What Belongs to You by way of having the same narrator.

He had me at, "I had the goal of writing a scene that was, at once, one hundred percent pornographic and one hundred percent high art." I've been wanting to consume something like this in literature and film. If the interview is any indication, maybe Greenwell will deliver.

The book will be out in January 2020. In the interim, I sought What Belongs to You, got myself acquainted and updated, and properly hyped.

Some underlined bits
...when I looked at his face, which was twisted in disgust, it was as if I saw his true face, his authentic face, not the learned face of fatherhood. He covered himself quickly and left the room, saying nothing, but his look entered me and settled there and has never left, it rooted beneath memory and became my understanding of myself, my understanding and expectation. (p 72)

I introduced him to my solitude and he deepened it without disturbance. (p 77)

That's all care is, I thought, it's just looking at a thing long enough, why should it be a question of scale? This seemed like a hopeful thought at first, but then it's hard to look at things, or to look at them truly, and we can't look at many at once, and it's so easy to look away. ( 139)

Making poems was a way of loving things, I had always thought, of preserving them, of living moments twice; or more than that, it was a way of living more fully, of bestowing on experience a richer meaning. But that wasn't what it felt like when I looked back at the boy, wanting a last glimpse of him; it felt like a loss. Whatever I could make of him would diminish him, and I wondered whether I wasn't really turning my back on things in making them into poems, whether instead of preserving the world I was taking refuge from it. (p 170 – 171)

Top Shelf