Friday, May 30, 2008

Prince Rupert's drops

They "let it off" on the steps of their hut. It was early, with the sun just slanting through the cross-crossed needles of the casuarinas which lined the creek. There was dew on the grass and their boots were wet from it. The larme batavique caught the light and gathered it in like molten metal straight from a glassworks' glory-hole. It withstood her father's hammer and her mother's axe. And then Lucinda--it was her birthday, after all--took the needle-nosed pliers and snapped--it took a grunt to manage it--the tail.

Fireworks made of glass. An explosion of dew. Crescendo. Diminuendo. Silence.

There are drugs that work the same, and while I am not suggesting that our founder purchased the glassworks to get more drops, it is clear that she had the seed planted, not once, but twice, and knew already the lovely contradictory nature of glass and she did not have to be told, on the day she saw the works at Darling Harbour, that glass is a thing in disguise, an actor, is not solid at all, but a liquid, that an old sheet of glass will not only take on a royal and purplish tinge but will reveal its true liquid nature by having grown fatter at the bottom and thinner at the top, and that even while it is as frail as the ice on a Parramatta puddle, it is stronger under compression than Sydney sandstone, that it is invisible, solid, in short, a joyous and paradoxical thing, as good a material as any to build a life from.

--Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda

3 comments:

Girl Detective said...

Hi, good to see you back again! Are you reading (or re-) the Best of Booker candidates? I've not read O & L.

SFP said...

Hi! No, I've started too many other challenges this year to focus on that one, too. Oscar and Lucinda's on the 1001 Books list, so I'll give myself credit for it there.

I watched the movie earlier this week and decided I had no excuse for not reading the book--I'd been a bit wary because I'd been disappointed with the Ned Kelly book. I finished O & L about half an hour ago and LOVED it. You should definitely take a look at this one.

Girl Detective said...

I'll add it to the list--I've been thinking about checking out those Best of Booker titles, since I've only read two of them.

My to-read suggestions are exploding lately. People need to stop recommending books. (Kidding, of course. I just need to learn how to stop time. Or how to read around my kids without them thinking 'hey, Mom's free!')