O'Pinions & O'Bservations O' O'Bscure O'Briania

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Lying in the Sun

Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 17:16:00 -0800
From: Susan Wenger

I just LOVE when O'Brian describes a feeling, a sensation, something I've experienced myself without ever verbalizing it, and he puts it so plainly there that I can just FEEL the experience myself.

I loved the way the man was so settled on the beach that he wouldn't move - there were other people on the beach, but:

"But the French voices pierced through indistinctly from a very distant world, remote in every way; and the only sound that he heard and accepted was the lapping of the sea.

If he were to raise his head a little and turn it he would be able to breathe more easily; but then the light would change to yellow, and he did not want that. He preferred the dim red, and he nuzzled his face a little deeper into his arms; the redness surged and for a time it was branched through and through with orange streaks. It settled, and he sank farther into his isolation. . . . This would be the life of a foetus, bathed in dark redness and safe; the only sound in its world would be the throb of the blood, like the waves that he heard now, weak and faint but always there and always prevailing against the irrelevant shouts, the crunch of feet on pebbles, the women gabbling, the ice-cream seller's raucous voice . . .

These sounds were all so faint, dream-like and unreal; they did not impinge upon his inner world at all, so long as he kept his head right down. So long as he kept his head down he was safe; his limits were drawn in to the sound of the waves in his ears; the ball of red light in his head, and the feel of his forearm across the bridge of his nose - his world was contained by these three things, and it did not extend even to his body, sprawling there on the stones and slowly roasting under the sun."

Wow! That's EXACTLY the feel of lying in the sun. I am there.

- Susan

Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 18:45:47 -0800
From: Marshall Rafferty

On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 17:16:00 -0800, Susan wrote:

Wow! That's EXACTLY the feel of lying in the sun. I am there.

Indeed, though he didn't quite convey the feeling of the heat on the skin (the sensation of sun I most enjoy, albeit rarely in this clime).

The story itself did what many of his stories do. It shocked me utterly. So simple a beginning, then odd, then terrifying, then completely disorienting. I'm finding myself asking "just who was this guy?"


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