Henry Miller Quiet Days in Clichy (1956)
A wonderful piece of ass, I reflected, watching her sail through the revolving door... a fresh, hefty piece of meat waiting to be cured and trimmed.
I can't remember where I read that Quiet Days in Clichy, Miller's semi-autobiographical memoir of 1930s' Paris, should be read in tandem with Hemingway's autobiographical-but-heavily-edited-by-other-people memoir of 1920s' Paris (A Moveable Feast).
Miller's book had its origins in his cash-strapped endeavours to write pornography for a collector at a dollar a page (there's a nice summary of this at cosmodemonic telegraph). So: if your bent for a nostalgia-tinged Paris coincides with a liking for reading about rough and ready sex narrated by someone who views all women as whores, then this is for you. Unfortunately, this was not for me. I found the descriptions of sex both brutal and unpleasant (albeit sometimes terribly funny): "I thought I'd never stop coming; it came out in steady stream, as if from a garden hose". Or: "Gripping her firmly around the waist, I shot it into her guts." I suppose I might suggest that the greater similarity between Hemingway and Miller lies less in their love of Paris and more in their misogyny.
Miller describes his Montmartre as "nakedly vicious" and "insidiously repellent." One might usefully apply these words to Quiet Days in Clichy. I realise that I am meant to be shocked. My only other Miller read is The Colossus of Maroussi, and on the basis of that I do feel that I should persist with more Miller. I'm just not sure that I have the stomach for it. Or the guts?!
Rating: abysmally low.
If you liked this: oh dear...