"Shell" in "The Favorite Game"

Debate on Leonard Cohen's poetry (and novels), both published and unpublished. Song lyrics may also be discussed here.
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~greg
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"Shell" in "The Favorite Game"

Postby ~greg » Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:02 pm

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These are the paragraphs in "The Favorite Game" that contain the word "shell".

( references as {Book:Chapter:page} )

_____

Breavman knows a girl named Shell whose ears were pierced so
she could wear the long filigree earrings. The punctures festered
and now she has a tiny scar in each earlobe. He discovered them
behind her hair. {I:1:3}

_____

A turtle is slow, cold, mechanical, nearly a toy, a shell with legs.
Their deaths didn't count. But a white rat is quick and warm in its
envelope of skin. {I:6:7}

_____

"Shell, how many men know of those little scars in your earlobes?
How many besides me, the original archaeologist of earlobes?" {I:12:18}

_____

Breavman stared at Shell and described Lisa's sunny room,
dense with expensive toys. Electric hobby-horse which rocked
itself. Life-sized walking dolls. Nothing that didn't squeak or light
up when squeezed. {I:12:19}

_____

Breavman and Shell were beside the lake. The evening mist was
piling up along the opposite shore like dunes of sand. They lay in
a double sleeping bag beside the fire, which was built of driftwood
they had gathered that afternoon. He wanted to tell her
everything. {I:20:31}

_____

"I read that Rousseau did right to the end of his life. I guess a
certain kind of creative person is like that. He works all day to discipline
his imagination so it's there he's most at home. No real corporeal
woman can give him the pleasure of his own creations. Shell,
don't let me scare you with what I'm saying." {I:20:31}

_____

Eight years later he told Shell about it, but not everything,
because he didn't want Shell to think that he saw her in the same
way he saw the girl he was telling about, as if she were a moon-lit
body in a slow Swedish movie, and from far away. {II:6:73}

_____

Why can't you tell Shell? {II:6:78}

_____

Shell touched Breavman's cheek.
"Tell me the rest of the story." {II:6:79}

_____

He told the story again, six years later, to Shell, but he didn't dishonour
it that time. Once, when he went away from Shell for a little
while, he wrote her this: {II:8:84}

_____

He saw the most beautiful person and pursued her. Shell. {II:19:128}

_____

Her middle name was Marshell, after her mother's people, but
they called her Shell. {III:1:131}

_____

Her ancestors crossed the ocean early enough to insure her
mother membership in the DAR. The family produced two undistinguished
senators and a number of very good traders. For the past
seventy-five years all the males (excepting the utterly stupid) have
attended Williams. Shell was the second youngest in a family of
four. Her older brother was one of the unfortunates who did not
make Williams. To compound his shame he ran off with a Baptist
and made his father bitterly happy when he quarrelled with his wife
over their children's education. {III:1:131}

_____

Shell grew up in a large white house on the outskirts of Hartford,
where her maternal great-grandfather had founded a successful
bank. There were a stone fountain in the garden, many acres of
land, and a stream which her father stocked with trout. After the
younger son made a reasonable marriage and moved to Pittsburgh,
Shell and her sister were bought two horses. A stable was built, a
miniature reproduction of the house itself. Her father was fond of
building miniatures of his house. Scattered through the trees there
were a chicken coop, a rabbit hutch, a doll's house, and a bird roost,
all copies of the original one, which (they reminded their weekend
guests) was for humans. {III:1:131}

_____

Every spring Shell was in charge of floating cut flowers in the
stone fountain. She took the business of being a girl very seriously.
She thought her sister was too rough, wondered why her mother
raised her voice, was hurt when she contradicted her husband. Not
only did she believe in fairy tales, she experimented with peas under
her mattress. {III:1:132}

_____

He said it like a question. Shell turned and ran. The grass
seemed suddenly white, the trees white. She dropped the flowers
meant for the fountain because they were white and dirty as bones.
She was a spider on a field of ash. {III:1:133}

_____

Shell loved the early morning. She asked for the room with the
big east window which had been the nursery. She was allowed to
choose her own wallpaper. The sun crept over the calico bedspread.
It was her miracle. {III:1:133}

_____

One Sunday morning she was in her mother's bed. They were
listening to a children's programme. Gobs of snow, the size of
seeded dandelions, were drifting diagonally across the many-paned
windows. Shell's hair, gathered by a black ribbon, lay tame and
smooth over her chest. Her mother was fingering it. {III:1:133}

_____

She was smiling faintly and looking straight into Shell's face but
Shell could not make contact with her eyes. The movement made
the hair impersonal. It didn't belong to Shell. The blanket was
moving. With the other hand her mother was doing something
beneath it. The same rhythm. {III:1:134}

_____

There is a kind of silence with which we respond to the vices,
addictions, self-indulgence of people close to us. It has nothing to
do with disapproval. Shell lay very still, watched the snow. She was
between the snow and her mother, unconnected to either. {III:1:134}

_____

Shell took a long time getting dressed. The house felt very {III:1:134}

_____

When her father, coming in red and jolly from walking in the
woods, kissed her mother, Shell watched very closely. She was sorry
for her father's failure, which she understood was as much a part of
him as his passion for miniature houses, his gentle interest in animals.
It was not too many years before her mother began to exercise
the inalienable rights of menopause. She took to wearing a for coat
and sun-glasses in the house at all times. She hinted, then claimed
that she had sacrificed a career as a concert pianist. When asked on
whose behalf, she refused to reply and turned the thermostat lower.
Her husband kept her eccentricities on the level of a joke, even
though her attacks on her young daughters were occasionally
vicious. He allowed her to become the baby of the house, kissing
her as usual before and after every meal. {III:1:134}

_____

Shell loved him for the way he treated her mother, believed
herself lucky to grow up in this atmosphere of married affection.
His patience, his kisses were tiny instalments on a debt she knew he
could never cover. {III:1:134}

_____

A damaging consequence of this neurotic interlude was a rivalry
between Shell and her sister. Their mother developed and encouraged
it with that faultless instinct which people who live under one
roof have for one another's pain. {III:1:135}

_____

Shell's father drove her to school every morning. It was his idea
that the girls go to different schools. This was a wonderful part of
the day for both of them. {III:1:135}

_____

Shell was formal. She sat on the grass with a book in front of the
library and arranged her dress over her knees. {III:1:136}

_____

"Don't be silly, Shell." {III:2:137}

_____

He would have liked to rip it from the wall and cause it to disappear
with a magician's flourish, a white cigarette gone, a gift for
Shell. And he would have liked to wrench it from its grimy roots
and swing it like a jawbone, completely demolish the room which
she had begun to ruin. {III:2:139}

_____

Shell put out his shaving kit and her own secret case of cosmetics
which smelled of lemon. She opened the window with a little
touch of triumph, and Breavman could hear leaves moving in the
spring night. {III:2:139}

_____

She saved her passion for the poems she read in class. Even the
most cynical students knew that something very important was
happening in those moments when she seemed to forget them
most. Shell listened like a disciple, knowing that the poems were all
the more beautiful because Miss McTavish had such a funny nose. {III:3:142}

_____

One evening, standing underneath the tall stained-glass windows,
she said something very strange to Shell. The glass images could
not be seen, only the bumpy lead separators. If mahogany wood
could be made translucent and used as a filter, that was the colour
of the light in the large quiet room. It was winter and Shell had the
impression that snow was falling, she wasn't sure, not having
stepped out since late afternoon. {III:3:143}

_____

"I've been watching you, Shell. You're the only aristocrat I have
ever met." Then her voice choked. "I love you because I wanted to
be like you, that's all I ever wanted." {III:3:143}

_____

Shell reached out her hand as if she had just seen someone
wounded in front of her. Miss McTavish recovered instantly from
her state of exposure and seized Shell's extended hand and shook it
formally, as though they had just been introduced. Both of them
bowed slightly several times, and it appeared to an observer that
they might be just about to begin a minuet. The image they made
occurred to both of them and they laughed in relief. {III:3:143}

_____

Shell felt that she was in a museum of bones. She had no sense
of the outdoors at all, but imagined herself in a sinister extension of
the library. And she was already summoning the resources of pity
on which she knew she would have to draw. {III:3:143}

_____

Shell stood still as she was kissed on the mouth, and caught the
man's smell of alcohol on her teacher's breath. She tried to think
through the present, reach the real forest she drove through with
her father, but she couldn't. {III:3:144}

_____

Shell believed her. She was a human tossed in the snow, humiliating
herself. She must be brave, as nuns with whips are brave, and
drunk sailors in a storm. People who walk into desolation, beggars,
saints, call to those they leave behind, and these cries are nobler
than the victory shouts of generals. She knew this from books and
her house. {III:3:144}

_____

Not too far away there was a second-class road. The headlights
of a single car sawed through the woods, disappeared, and left the
woman and the girl with a renewed sense of the outside, regulating
world, which Shell already knew was engineered against the
remarkable. {III:3:144}

_____

Miss McTavish had succeeded in immersing herself almost
entirely in a drift of snow. Shell helped her out of it. They faced
each other as they had in the library. Shell knew that her teacher
would have preferred to be standing back there now, the declaration
and kiss undone. {III:3:144}

_____

Breavman was surprised to learn that Shell still corresponded
with her. {III:3:144}

_____

"Once or twice a year," said Shell. {III:3:144}

_____

When Shell was nineteen she married Gordon Ritchie Sims. As the
announcement in The New York Times specified, he was in the graduating
class at Amherst and she was in her freshman year at Smith. {III:4:145}

_____

The best man was Gordon's room-mate, a devout Episcopalian
whose banking family was of Jewish origin. He was half in love with
Shell himself and dreamed of just such a wife to guarantee and
cement his assimilation. {III:4:145}

_____

Mail became a part of Shell's heart. She carefully chose the
places to read these lengthy communications, which were far more
exciting than the chapters of a novel because she was the major
character in them. {III:4:145}

_____

Shell loved his seriousness. {III:4:146}

_____

With him Shell passed from the startling colt-like beauty of her
adolescence directly into that kind of gracious senility typified by
Queen Mothers and the widows of American presidents. {III:4:146}

_____

Shell believed her breasts were stuffed with cancer. {III:5:147}

_____

After Gordon got out of the service they decided to move to New
York and took a fairly expensive apartment on Perry Street in the
Village. He had a job with Newsweek, in the books section, and he
also sold some pieces to the Saturday Review. Shell was Girl Friday
to one of the editors of Harper's Bazaar. She took some pleasure in
refusing the many invitations to model. {III:6:148}

_____

At one of these occasions, Roger, Gordon's old room-mate,
managed to have a few private words with Shell. He had been liberated
by six cognacs. {III:6:148}

_____

"If this ever stops working," - the gesture of his hand took in the
accumulated triumph of antique shops - "come to me, Shell." {III:6:148}

_____

Shell was holding an empty silver tray and he could see her face
in it through the crumbs. {III:6:148}

_____

Gordon and Shell talked. Gordon welcomed the talk because
again it was a literary treatment of the problem. And because they
had labelled their absent bodies a problem, defined the boundaries
of their trouble, they were able to bandage their union for a little
longer. {III:8:151}

_____

So the well-ordered existence continued, really it flourished.
Shell changed her dressmaker, Gordon moved his politics farther to
the right. They bought a piece of land in Connecticut which had on
it a sheep fold which they intended to preserve. Architects were
consulted. {III:8:151}

_____

Shell was genuinely fond of him. She had to resort to that
expression when she examined her feelings. That sickened her
because she did not wish to dedicate her life to a fondness. This was
not the kind of quiet she wanted. The elegance of a dancing couple
was remarkable only because the grace evolved from a sweet struggle
of flesh. Otherwise it was puppetry, hideous. She began to
understand peace as an aftermath. {III:8:151}

_____

Shell grew to believe, in the terms of Gordon's metaphor, that
they were living in a ruin already and that the locked door was the
sole entrance to sanity and rest. But Gordon had taken pains to
package the problem neatly not so much in order to examine it as
to drop it into the sea. He was not one of those hairy passion chaps,
it was not his nature, he almost believed, except, like all of us, he
dreamed. In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are
done in the absence of a caress. {III:8:152}

_____

A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable
ally in the battle for love. Shell studied herself in the mirror,
which had an eighteenth-century frame. {III:8:152}

_____

Her friends had their problems too. Someone dedicated her
seventh martini to the extinct American male. Shell did not raise
her glass; besides, she didn't like hen parties. The toast-mistress
regretted the death of American peasants, gamekeepers, and
mourned the dependable cab-drivers, stable-boys, milkmen lost to
analysts and psychological Westerns. Shell was not heartened by
the general masculine failure. {III:8:152}

_____

I'm cracking up, thought Breavman. He was wet-eyed happy
because of the trivial exchange. He sat at a small table, his hands
clasped over the cup of tea, enjoying the warmth. Then he saw
Shell for the first time. {III:9:158}

_____

Fantastic luck, she was sitting alone, but no, here was a man
coming to her table, balancing a cup in each of his hands. Shell
stood up to take one from him. She has small breasts, I love her
clothes, I hope she has nowhere to go, prayed Breavman. I hope she
sits there all night. He looked around the cafeteria. Everyone was
staring at her. {III:9:158}

_____

Shell took a lover at the end of her fifth year of marriage. It was
shortly after she started her new job. She knew what she was
doing. {III:10:160}

_____

"Really, Shell." He smiled at her paternally, as if she were an
adolescent reciting the Rubaiyat with too much belief. {III:10:160}

_____

"We've been pretty lucky." His brand of humility took in the
apartment, Shell's closet of dresses, the plans for the second floor of
the house, which were laid out on the desk and to which he was
anxious to return. {III:10:160}

_____

"Don't get hysterical on me. Oh, come on, Shell, let's grow up.
A marriage changes. It can't always be passion and promises. . . ." {III:10:161}

_____

Breavman often reviews this scene. Shell told it to him a year
later. He sees the two of them bending over the oiled desk, backs
towards him, and he sees himself in the corner of the antique room,
staring at the incredible hair, waiting for her to feel his gaze, turn,
rise, come to him, while Gordon works with his sharp pencil,
sketching in the bathroom, the insult of a nursery. She comes to
him, they whisper, she looks back, they leave. And in some of the
versions he says, "Shell, sit still, build the house, be ugly." But her
beauty makes him selfish. She has to come. {III:10:161}

_____

When she decided to change her job Gordon thought it was a
good idea. She was glad to get back into the academic atmosphere.
It was a tracking-back, Gordon said. She could re-establish her
bearings. Shell simply couldn't stand another day at Harper's
Bazaar. Watching the cold bodies, clothes. {III:10:161}

_____

A friend of hers was doing a couple of afternoons a week of voluntary
work at World Student House, hostessing at teas for foreign
students, hanging decorations, showing America at its smiling prettiest
to the future ministers of black republics. She informed Shell
that there was a job open in the Recreation Department. Since a
friend of the family was a director and benefactor of the organization
her application and interview were formalities. She moved into
a pleasant green office decorated with UNESCO reproductions,
which looked over Riverside Park, much the same view as
Breavman's, though less elevated. {III:10:162}

_____

It was strange how friendly she felt to Gordon. The construction
of the house was fascinating. Every detail interested her. They
rented a truck to pick up panelling from an old country hotel which
was being demolished. Gordon saw his study in oak. Shell suggested
one full wall for the living-room, the other three left in
brick. She was puzzled by her own concern. {III:10:162}

_____

Shell allowed him to court her extravagantly for three weeks. He
was not in his best form because he really believed her beautiful and
this intruded on the perfection of his technique. {III:10:163}

_____

The bathroom was brilliantly clean. She had been frightened
that it would have a naked bulb on a cord, cracked porcelain, hair
on old soap. Is this Shell? she inquired blankly of her image, not
because she wanted to know, or even open the subject, but because
that question was the only form her modesty could assume. {III:10:164}

_____

Oh Shell, cries Breavman as he learns of the hotel, as she tells
him in the voice she uses when she must tell him everything. Shell,
fly away. Heap flowers in the stone fountain. Fight with your sister.
Not you with the Expert Fool, in a room like the ones Breavman
built. Not you who wore white dresses. {III:10:165}

_____

As Med lay beside her, silently cataloguing what he had gathered,
Shell succumbed to a wave of hatred which made her grit
her teeth. She did not know where to attach it. First she tried
Med. He was too simple. Besides for the first time since she had
known him he seemed genuinely sad, not theatrically melancholy.
She guessed he was walking through a museum of dead female
forms. She absently massaged the nape of his neck. She tried to
hate herself but all she could hate was her silly body. She hated
Gordon! She was here because of him. No, that was not true. But
still she hated him and the truth of this threw open her eyes, wide
in the dark. {III:10:165}

_____

"I shouldn't tell you this." Shell says. {III:10:165}

_____

Armed with the betrayal, Shell approached her husband. {III:10:166}

_____

At this point it occurred to Shell that when she had begun to
speak to him she had not intended to leave but to give him a last
chance. {III:10:166}

_____

Even men of limited imagination can sometimes imagine the
worst. So he could not have been really surprised to see her packing
one day, or to hear themselves discussing who would take what
bureau, what candle-mould, or to find himself on the telephone
making arrangements with movers to save Shell the trouble. For
years now he had known he didn't deserve her; it was a matter of
time. Now it was happening and he had already imagined his
gentlemanly role. {III:10:167}

_____

Shell visited her parents in Hartford. They still lived in the big
white house, just the two of them. Officially they regretted the separation
and hoped she'd soon return to her husband and her senses. But
she had a long talk with her father as they walked over the property.
The leaves were drained of green but they had not yet turned bright.
She was surprised how easily she was able to talk to him. {III:10:167}

_____

Shell was lucky to be able to rent a small apartment on 23rd
Street. She didn't want to get too far from the Village. Except for a
tiny kitchen, bathroom, and vestibule, she lived in one room. She
stood the tall clock beside the entrance to the main room. She
painted the walls lavender and threw lavender translucent draperies
over the windows, which seemed to etherize the light, make it thin,
and perfume the air with cool colour. {III:10:168}

_____

He was following the flute in a Schubert quartet. It climbed
and returned and ascended again, launched and received by low
powerful strings. Shell opened the door, stepped into the room,
turned to the door to give her attention to closing it softly. She
quickly crossed the silent carpet and sat in a chair beside the french
windows, through which she could see the darkening park, walls,
and street. {III:10:170}

_____

Some women possess their beauty as they do a custom sportscar
or a thoroughbred horse. They drive it hard to every appointment
and grant interviews from the saddle. The lucky ones have small
accidents and learn to walk in the street, because nobody wants to
listen to an arrogant old lady. Some women wear moss over their
beauty and occasionally something rips it away - a lover, a pregnancy,
maybe a death - and an incredible smile shows through, deep
happy eyes, perfect skin, but this is temporary and soon the moss reforms.
Some women study and counterfeit beauty. Industries have
been established to serve these women, and men are conditioned to
favour them. Some women inherit beauty as a family feature, and
learn to value it slowly, as the scion of a great family becomes proud
of an unusual chin because so many distinguished men bore it. And
some women, Breavman thought, women like Shell, create it as they
go along, changing not so much their faces as the air around them.
They break down old rules of light and cannot be interpreted or
compared. They make every room original. {III:10:170}

_____

"The Grants are excellent hosts," said Shell. {III:10:172}

_____

"Wouldn't you say their house is a wee bit pretentious?" said
Shell. {III:10:172}

_____

"Stay up the night with me! We'll go to the fish market. There
are great noble monsters packed in ice. There are turtles, live ones,
for famous restaurants. We'll rescue one and write messages on his
shell and put him in the sea, Shell, sea-shell. Or we'll go to the vegetable
market. They've got red-net bags full of onions that look like
huge pearls. Or we'll go down to Forty-second Street and see ten
movies and buy a mimeographed bulletin of jobs we can get in
Pakistan -" {III:10:173}

_____

Shell took his arm, he brought his elbow close against her hand,
and they were both part of a single motion, a sort of gentle Siamese
beast that could cover ten thousand blocks. She took her arm away
after a little while and he felt empty. {III:10:173}

_____

"I won't ask you up," Shell said without coyness. {III:10:174}

_____

Shell got ready for bed quickly. When she was lying in the dark
she suddenly realized that she hadn't brushed her hair. {III:10:174}

_____

Once, for a while, he seemed to serve something other than
himself. Those were the only poems he ever wrote. They were for
Shell. He wanted to give her back her body. {III:11:175}

_____

The lover, being planned so well, had a life of his own and often
left Breavman behind. He came to Shell with his gift, let us say, of
an ostrich feather bought at a Second Avenue store or tea roses
from the shops at the corner of Eighth Street. He sat at Shell's table
and they exchanged gossip and plans. {III:11:176}

_____

"No, Shell, it's for you." {III:11:178}

_____

Because he was attached to magic the poems continued. He
didn't realize that Shell was won not by the text but by the totality
of his attention. {III:11:179}

_____

Shell decided to go through with the divorce. Gordon acquiesced.
He had intended to put up a battle but when she visited him
at his office he was intimidated by her. She was so quiet and
friendly, inquiring about his work, happy for his success. She
referred to the marriage tenderly, but was firm about its ending, as
though it were an after-supper game in the twilight but now the
children had to come home to bed. He did not have to guess at
the source of her strength. Except for one afternoon when they
were filling out some final papers and he made a last-ditch effort
to keep her, he was happy he'd had the luck to spend five years with
her. And in a few years his literary disposition, unrequited by
Newsweek, would allow him to dramatize himself to younger women
with this little tragedy. {III:12:180}

_____

It isn't often we meet someone who has the same vision of what
we might be as we have for ourselves. Shell and Breavman, or rather
his deputy, saw each other with this remarkable generosity. {III:12:181}

_____

They talked all night until Shell could declare, "I hate him." {III:12:181}

_____

He was bothered by the knowledge that Shell was making real
decisions, acting, changing her life. He wanted to watch her at rest.
It involved him in the world of houses and traffic lights. She was
becoming an authentic citizen, using his love for strength. {III:12:181}

_____

The Breavman eye, trained for volcano-watching, heavenly
hosts, ideal thighs and now perfectly at work on the landscape
of Shell's body, was in danger of sleep. More and more the lover had
Shell to himself. These are the times Breavman does not remember
too well because he was so happy. {III:12:182}

_____

Shell was delighted by a certain cluster of birch. {III:13:183}

_____

Shell said that every sound of the lake was different. Breavman
preferred not to investigate; he enjoyed the blur of happiness. She
could listen more carefully than he. Details made her richer,
chained him. {III:13:183}

_____

"If you tape their whistles, Shell, and slow them down, you can
hear the most extraordinary things. What the naked ear hears as
one note is often in reality two or three notes sung simultaneously.
A bird can sing three notes at the same time!" {III:13:183}

_____

Shell made herself wake up in the middle of the night. Moths
battered against the window beside which he worked. She crept
behind him and kissed his neck. {III:13:183}

_____

At night there was Shell, poems and the journal while she slept. {III:14:184}

_____

Then there were the evening meals with Shell. Straw mats on an
oiled-wood folding table. Candlelight and the smell of beeswax.
The elaborate food lovers will prepare for one another, cooked in
wine, held together by toothpicks. Or hilarious gentle morning
feasts out of cans and frozen boxes. {III:14:184}

_____

There were weekend breakfasts of eggs and blueberry muffins
when Shell was the genius of an ancient farmhouse kitchen histories
away from New York- which they could abandon at any time for the
green sofa, which was dateless. There were movie afternoons,
mythological analyses of C Westerns, historic spaghetti dinners at
Tony's at which the phoniness of Bergman was discovered. {III:14:185}

_____

He exorcized the glory demons. The pages were jammed into an
antique drawer that Shell respected. It was a Pandora's box of visas
and airline-ticket folders that would spirit him away if she opened
it. Then he would climb back into the warm bed, their bodies
sweetened by the threat. {III:14:185}

_____

My darling Shell, there is someone lost in me whom I drowned
stupidly in risky games a while ago - I would like to bring him to
you, he'd jump into your daydreams without asking and take care of
your flesh like a drunk scholar, with laughing and precious secret
, footnotes. But as I say, he is drowned, or crumpled in cowardly
sleep, heavily medicated, dreamless, his ears jammed with seaweed
or cotton -I don't even know the location of the body, except that
sometimes he stirs like a starving foetus in my heart when I remember
you dressing or at work in the kitchen. That's all I can write. I
would have liked to bring him to you - not this page, not this regret. {III:14:186}

_____

He looked up from his lined book. He imagined Shell's silhouette
and his own. Valentine sweethearts of his parents' time. A card
on his collector's shelf. Could he embalm her for easy reference? {III:14:186}

_____

She changed her position, drawing the white sheet tight along
the side of her body, so that her waist and thigh seemed to emerge
out of rough marble. He had no comparisons. It wasn't just that the
forms were perfect, or that he knew them so well. It was not a sleeping
beauty, everybody's princess. It was Shell. It was a certain particular
woman who had an address and the features of her family.
She was not a kaleidoscope to be adjusted for different visions.
All her expressions represented feelings. When she laughed it was
because. When she took his hand in the middle of the night it
was because. She was the reason. Shell, the Shell he knew, was the
owner of the body. It answered her, was her. It didn't serve him from
a pedestal. He had collided with a particular person. Beautiful or
not, or ruined with vitriol tomorrow, it didn't matter. Shell was the
one he loved. {III:14:186}

_____

When the room was half filled with sunlight Shell opened
her eyes. {III:14:187}

_____

"Shell, I think I should go to Montreal for a little ..." {III:14:187}

_____

"Really, Shell, it's just the summer." {III:14:188}

_____

He was glad that four hundred miles away Shell was waiting. {IV:4:196}

_____

When they were asleep he ran to the kitchen, where there was a
telephone. He phoned Shell in New York. He wanted her voice to
obliterate the day. He wanted to hear her say the word "darling."
He had phoned her half a dozen times from the city and he owed a
huge bill. {IV:6:201}

_____

Shell told him how much she loved Joseph Conrad. {IV:6:201}

_____

"It's so hard," said Shell's voice. "Everybody has a body." {IV:9:205}

_____

"Shell, I'm coming to New York tomorrow!" {IV:9:205}

_____

He sent Shell a funny telegram explaining why he couldn't come. {IV:9:206}

_____

He lay there thinking stupidly of Krantz and Anne, lovingly of
Shell. {IV:11:211}

_____

And Shell with her open gift, it struck him, forced him into a
kind of nobility. {IV:14:217}

_____

Walking back, they talked about Shell, how beautiful she was.
He asked Tamara if she would mind his phoning New York. {IV:14:217}

_____

Shell was sleepy but glad to hear from him. She spoke in a little
girl's voice. He told her he loved her. {IV:14:217}

_____

Dearest Shell, {IV:16:219}

_____

The sun is always part of the sky, but the moon is a splendid and
remote stranger. The moon. Your eye keeps coming back to it as it
would do to a beautiful woman in a restaurant. He thought about
Shell. The same moment he believed he had the confidence to live
alone he believed he could live with Shell. {IV:21:225}

_____

He wrote two letters to Shell and then phoned her so he could
get to sleep. {IV:22:229}

_____

Dearest Shell, {IV:27:234}

_____

It's wonderful to be able to speak to you, my darling Shell.
I can be peaceful because I know what I want to say. {IV:27:234}

_____

I'm not a good lover or I'd be with you now. I'd be beside
you, not using this longing for a proof of feeling. That's why
I'm writing you and sending you this summer's journal. I
want you to know something about me. Here it is day by
day. Dearest Shell, if you let me I'd always keep you four
hundred miles away and write you pretty poems and letters. {IV:27:235}

_____

Shell sent three telegrams that he didn't answer. Five times he
allowed his phone to ring all night. {IV:27:236}

_____

He met her at a cast party. She had played the lead in Hedda
Gabler. A cold bitch, she'd done it well, all the ambition and vine
leaves. She was as beautiful as Shell, Tamara, one of the great. She
was from Winnipeg. {IV:29:238}

_____

The need for Shell stabbed him in a few seconds. He actually felt
himself impaled in the air by a spear of longing. And with the
longing came a burden of loneliness he knew he could not support.
Why were they in different cities? {IV:29:240}

_____

"Shell!" {IV:29:241}

_____

"I love you, Shell." {IV:29:241}

_____

"Shell, this is crazy, talking this way, four hundred miles apart.
I'm coming to New York." {IV:29:241}

_____

"Shell?" {IV:29:242}

_____

For the body of Shell, which was altogether sweet in his
memory, which he loved as he walked, the little breasts he wrote
about, and her hair which was so black it shone blue. {IV:30:243}

_____

He sat at a table. He was very thirsty. He felt in his pocket. Shell
was right. He didn't have much money. {IV:30:244}




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