by Mark Dorset
Leaving Small’s Hotel:
“I remember a day long ago, when I was a child in a high chair gumming a piece of zwieback. . . . A neighbor, a fussy, educated man named Dudley Beaker, was visiting, and he was talking to my mother, talking about me, without making any attempt to disguise what he was saying because he thought that I was too young to understand, and he told her—I’ll never forget it —that childhood is like a moment on a mountaintop in the sun, or maybe he said a moment in the sunshine on a mountaintop, before we descend into the vale of tears, or maybe it was the valley of death.”
Despite his assertion to the contrary (“I’ll never forget it”), Peter has misremembered the incident to which he refers, and has conflated two memories to produce an erroneous third. What Peter remembers as the gumming-zweiback incident occurs in the early pages of “My Mother Takes a Tumble” in Little Follies, but the gummed comestible is not zweiback but toast, and Mr. Beaker’s point there has to do with Peter’s style in toast-eating and the the boundaries that define (or ill define) the moments in our lives: “It’s something about nibbling at the elusive, ever-receding twilight line of this moment, ahead of which lies an abrasive future, and behind which we leave a messy past, isn’t it?” Peter’s mother asks. Mr. Beaker’s comment about childhood comes much later in Little Follies, in part two of “The Fox and the Clam,” where Peter is neither sitting in a high chair nor gumming a piece of zweiback or a piece of toast.
is comforting, when one feels a bit “lost,” to be able to put one’s feet
up, close one’s eyes, and look back, as it were, along the road that one
followed from wherever one once was to wherever one may be now, to “retrace
one's steps,” and find, along that roadside, familiar milestones. It is
certainly comforting for me; for if I am feeling a bit “lost,” when I begin
such a backward ramble, I am often lost during it as well, wandering on
someone else’s road, or backing out of a cul-de-sac, and it is always a
great relief to come upon one of these milestones, or, if you prefer, landmarks.
— Peter Leroy, “My Mother Takes a Tumble”have in mind two sorts of cross reference — one concerned with words and the other with things.
— Denis Diderot, Encyclopedia
Tip the Author
I should like to see the custom introduced of readers who are pleased with a book sending the author some small cash token: anything between half-a-crown and a hundred pounds. Authors would then receive what their publishers give them as a flat rate and their “tips” from grateful readers in addition, in the same way that waiters receive a wage from their employers and also get what the customer leaves on the plate. Not more than a few hundred pounds—that would be bad for my character—not less than half-a-crown—that would do no good to yours.
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise
|Copyright © 1996, 1997, 2001 by Eric
A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Portions of A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) were first published by Voyager, Inc., as part of The Complete Peter Leroy (so far).
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