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The Malady of Death - Marguerite Duras, Barbara Bray 4.18.09 -- The washing machine in my house is broken and I had to take a couple of loads of clothes to the laundry mat today. I took this book along because it's short and seemed like it would fit the time span I needed to fill. I jotted some notes in a journal as I read, although I didn't quite finish.

A man hires a prostitute not just to fuck, but to try to love. Love is more expensive than sex. Is this foreshadowing? Will the loving of this woman cost the man more than he bargains? The story is told in second person. Why? Perhaps so Duras can distance herself from the telling?

"Every day she'd come. Every day she comes." Is there a double meaning in the two verb tenses used here? It strikes me that the narrative isn't actually happening, but is all an imagining. I think the speaker is a woman. A woman trying to understand an enigmatic man. A man she loves. A man incapable of loving. And so she describes him to himself, describes him having an affair with a young, tall, lovely girl -- someone completely different than herself, I think -- and trying, but failing, to love.

I don't want to know anything the way you do, with that death-derived certainty, that hopeless monotony, the same every day of your life, every night, and that deadly routine of lovelessness.

Done. Beautifully written novella about a man who is all but dead. He is death and the girl is life and he can't stand that she is life, but he also wants to possess her -- possess life. But life slips through his grasp, which was always tenuous anyway. He is the walking dead, always will be. He can't even pretend.

Strange little epilogue from Duras about how she'd stage the story as a play.