A fictional account of reading James

At the Metropolitan Museum sunlight had cleared the apartment towers and was gracing the upper steps by the museum entrance. In the 1970s I’d sat on those steps with Pimm. We’d discovered early on that we could not do museums together. He couldn’t stand before a painting or a Greek vase for more than a few moments. While I lingered, he was always drifting on, seeking the next room. He needed people and events -- if not actual motion, then talk, or plot. Novels could satisfy him, but not potboilers. He had an ongoing affair with Henry James. A maroon hardcover of The Ambassadors sat for years by his chair in the living room. Every so often he’d pick it up and re-enter. On other nights he’d be out on the prowl, seeking James’s deeply buried subtexts. Later on, when he couldn’t read (or prowl) I read the book aloud to him, and I often felt I got the rhythms wrong, lost the nuance of those sinuous, gathering sentences. But he didn’t complain. Just lay there with his brow knitting now and then.

from Drina Bridge by Jim Bartley

And so for day 146