Monday, 1 February 2010


Extract from Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan:

Madame Divonne never stopped chattering the whole way ... Getting up so early, working on the flowers, and all that crying whetted her appetite ... Besides there was her diabetes ... In any case she was hungry ... The moment we left the cemetery, she wanted to have a snack. She couldn't stop talking about it, it got to be an obsession with her. "You know what I feel like, Clémence? Not meaning to be greedy ... A little slice of gelatine ... on a nice fresh roll ... How does it strike you?"
My mother didn't answer. She was embarrassed. I felt like throwing up on the spot ... I couldn't think of anything else but vomiting ... I thought of the galantine ... of what Caroline must be looking like down there ... of all the worms ... the big ones ... the fat ones with feet ... gnawing, swarming about in there ... All that decay ... millions of them in all that swollen pus, the stinking wind ...
Papa was there ... He had barely time to take me behind a tree ... I threw it all up ... everything ... on the grating ... My father jumped fast ... but he didn't dodge it all ...
"You damn pig!" he yelled. He had it all over his pants ... The people were looking at us. He was mortified. He went off himself in the other direction, toward the Bastille. He didn't want to have anything to do with us after that. We went to a little café for a cup of verbena to settle my stomach. It was a tiny little café just across from the prison.
I've often gone by there since. I always look inside. And I never see a soul.

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