Sunday 07 July 2002

What life is like

In need of distraction I thought I’d like to read a spy novel but I’m fussy now and can only enjoy well-written spy novels, which narrows the field considerably. I recalled a Salon essay on the books of Alan Furst and managed to find Kingdom of Shadows. Early in the story, Morath (the “hero”) is telling his uncle about the death of Sandor, a family retainer:

‘Also,’ Morath went on, ‘he wanted me to tell you something.’

Polanyi raised his eyebrows.

‘It had to do with the death of his grandfather, who was ninety-five, he thought, and who had died in the same bed. The family knew the time had come, they were all gathered around. Suddenly, the old man became agitated and started to talk. Sandor had to lean close in order to hear him. “Remember,” he whispered, “life is like licking honey…” He said it three or four times, and Sandor could tell there was more. At last, he managed: “…licking honey off a thorn.”

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© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour