Friday, October 28, 2005

Sometimes headlines tickle me to no end. A recent one was something like "Woman finds bullet in pork casserole." And now there's this: Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers. The story itself seems like something out of a not-quite-so-lyrically-written Gabriel Garcia Marquez story. I love the mystery of it. Here's the opening paragraph:
An unseen, sweet-smelling cloud drifted through parts of Manhattan last night. Arturo Padilla walked through it and declared that it was awesome.
And the closing one:
There were conflicting accounts as to its nature. A police officer who had thrown out her French vanilla coffee earlier compared it to that. Two diplomats from the Netherlands disagreed, politely. Rieneke Buisman said it smelled like roasted peanuts. Her friend Joris Geeven said it reminded him of a Dutch cake called peperkoek, though he could not describe that smell.

Smells, as we discuss in my Writing from the Senses class, can indeed be challenging to describe (but they can end up being so evocative on the page. And, as Diane Ackerman writes, "One of the real tests of writers, especially poets, is how well they write about smells. If they can't describe the scent of sanctity in a chruch, can you trust them to describe the suburbs of the heart?")

Perhaps if Joris Geeven tries to describe peperkoek one day, he'll end up writing volumes, just like Proust with his madeleine.

(I've also been tickled by the indictment headlines, I have to admit. I had been holding my breath, waiting to hear Fitzgerald's announcements today. I'm still holding my breath re. Karl Rove. It is quite thrilling to see this administration unmasked.)

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