Saturday, March 9, 2013

Down on the Bayou

Louisiana bayou

I am halfway through Walker Percy's The Moviegoer. Binx Bolling is the narrator. He is a thirty-year-old stockbroker, a Korean War veteran, and he has a penchant for briefly falling in love with his secretaries. Binx is a bit adrift in his hometown of New Orleans. Between dinners with his aunt, conversations with his depressed cousin Kate, and going for a spin in his MG, he ponders the everydayness of his life. 

Percy has a way of evoking the slowness in the South (it's the heat!) and certainly has a way of turning a descriptive phrase. Here are bits from early morning on the dock at his mother's house on the bayou.

The world is milk: sky, water, savannah. The thin etherlike water vaporizes; tendrils of fog gather like smoke; a white shaft lies straight as a ruler over the marsh.

and this...

The water of the bayou boils up like tea and disgorges bubbles of smoke. The hull disappears into a white middle distance and the sound [of the motor] goes suddenly small as if the boat had run into cotton.

The boards of the dock, warming in the sun, begin to give off a piney-winey smell. The last tendril of ground fog burns away, leaving the water black as tea. The tree is solitary and mournful, a poor thing after all. Across the bayou the egret humps over, as peaked and disheveled as a buzzard.


The egret pumps himself up into the air and rows by so close I can hear the gristle creak in his wings.

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