Friday, April 15, 2011

The pleasures of youthful friendship

Scenes from two very different novels echoed each other in my reading this week and seemed worth sharing. First, from a fantasy novel rocketlass liked very much but that I ultimately decided wasn't for me, Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind:
Thus it was that three students made their slightly erratic way back to the University. See them as they go, weaving only slightly. It is quiet, and when the belling tower strikes the late hour, it doesn't break the silence so much as it underpins it. The crickets, too, respect the silence. Their calls are like careful stitches in its fabric, almost too small to be seen.

The night is like warm velvet around them. The stars, burning diamonds in the cloudless sky, turn the road beneath their feet a silver grey. The University and Imre are the heats of understanding and art, the strongest of the four corners of civilization. Here on the road between the two there is nothing but old trees and long grass bending to the wind. The night is perfect in a wild way, almost terrifyingly beautiful.

The three boys, one dark, one light, and one--for lack of a better word--fiery, do not notice the night. Perhaps some part of them does, but they are young, and drunk, and busy knowing deep in their hearts that they will never grow old or die. They also know that they are friends, and they share a certain love that will never leave them. The boys know many other things, but none of them seem as important as this. Perhaps they are right.
And then, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned:
Anthony, prowling the chilly streets in a fit of utter boredom, dropped in at the Molton Arms he was overjoyed to find that Mr. Noble was at home.

His spirits soared faster than the flying elevator. This was so good, so extremely good, to be about to talk to Maury--who would be equally happy at seeing him. They would look at each other with a deep affection just behind their eyes which both would conceal beneath some attenuated raillery. Had it been summer they would have gone out together and indolently sipped two long Tom Collinses, as they wilted their collars and watched the faintly diverting round of some lazy August cabaret. But it was cold outside, with wind around the edges of the tall buildings and December just up the street, so better far an evening together under the soft lamplight and a drink or two of Bushmill's, or a thimbleful of Maury's Grand Marnier, with the books gleaming like ornaments against the walls, and Maury radiating a divine inertia as he rested, large and catlike, in his favorite chair.
The settled life of adulthood brings compensations that would have been barely comprehensible to our younger selves, but it's undeniable that something is lost along the way.

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