Monday, August 15, 2011

send the BSIFA back in time

Although Edward X Delaney was perhaps his most famous creation, Lawrence Sanders also created another interesting detective called Timothy Cone, an ex-Marine working as an investigator for Haldering and Company, a Wall Street firm specialising in corporate intelligence (in plain English: he investigates deals and mergers that reek of foul play). He is, needless to say, brilliant; he is also rather eccentric (otherwise he probably wouldn't be an interesting character). The tales of Cone are short, all written in the simple present tense (for creative reasons unknown) and collected in two volumes, The Timothy Files and Timothy's Game. Their lasting value, however, lies not in the plots and the twists (a lot of which are just surprises -- only Cone really can really put the pieces together), but in the scenes of intimacy between him and his boss Samantha Whatley (yes, they are having an affair unbeknownst -- they hope -- to the other people in the office). I was not surprised that Sanders valued such scenes, since he had devoted entire novels to desire, lust and coupling (you can't go wrong with titles like The Seduction of Peter S and The Passion of Molly T). What I was not prepared for was that his descriptions of the moments between Cone and Whatley seem to almost parody themselves with poetic flourishes, pithy phrases and often laughably inane choices of words. Allow me to present a sample from the works collected in The Timothy Files:

but they cannot deny their bodies' appetites, and when their hormones take over, they go berserk.

they're two stick figures, all bony knobs and hard muscle. their mating is a furious battle, not against each other so much as the emptiness and lunacy of their lives. when they strain, it is not to punish but to break out into another world. oh, look at the meadows and the daffodils! the lawn they seek is bliss.

it's such a sweaty wrestle, not quite hysterical but frantic enough. and
when they're done, staring at each other with dulled eyes, reality comes
seeping back, the real world takes over again. but something remains ...

they're like two rough hawsers, braided, rasping against each other and welcoming the scratch. in no way are they gentle or tender, because they are both hard, hurt people, wanting to get out. and this is the only way they know.

so there are no proclamations of love or undying passion. instead there is is a gritty intenseness, both of them serious and hoping. their coupling is a partnership of two bankrupts, as if all their liabilities combined might show up in black ink and make them wealthy.

they really do get out with each other, as attuned as a duo of violinists, howing and scraping in unison and losing themselves in mutual harmonies. carried away and lost with closed eyes and seraphic smiles, loving life and its surprises.

finally, ignited again, they come together in a different mood: all murmurings and soft twistings. they couple in a drugged tempo, slow and lazy, as if this night might last forever.
later, drowsy and satiated, they lie entwined, peering at each other with dazed eyes. they say nothing of what has happened, not wanting the moment to slip away -- as it inevitably does.

BSIFA was a reference to this

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