In Perec’s world, absence takes on the same contours as presence. Nothingness draws in everything it touches — decorated window frames, mercury barometers, Frankfurt School philosophers, the letters of the alphabet, postcards coming through your mail slot, literary theory, Tierra del Fuego, black-and-white movies, kissy-wissies, crossword puzzles. In Perec’s studio, all the world is gathered, displayed, and accounted for. At first glance, it seems everything is there. But once you look at it through Perec’s eyes, it quickly disintegrates. Our entire world is revealed as horreur vacui.
I’m not insane about Brando for this. In fact, in my opinion he is quite wrong. But he’s a fine actor and if he’s really excited about it and will work like a beginner trying to get a start, he can be fine. He’s got to be hungry and anxious. The power to be that disappears with your picture on an ad. If we don’t get Brando, I’m for Paul Newman. This boy will definitely be a film star. I have absolutely no doubt. He’s just as good looking as Brando, and his masculinity, which is strong, is also more actual. He’s not as good an actor as Brando yet, and probably will never be. But he’s a darn good actor with plenty of power, plenty of insides, plenty of sex.
In the early 1990s, the brother-in-law of my boyfriend of seven years, a Sicilian, seriously offered me money to stop coming to Sicily, and was genuinely surprised when I preferred my boyfriend to the cash.
The law changed, and we could sign up as civil partners. I got married to Zaved in 2009 – that’s what we always say, since the verb “to civil-partner” seems designed to make it impossible to speak. Not everyone accepts the synonym. I had an acrimonious conversation with a nurse in hospital: every time I said “my husband”, she corrected me and said “your partner”. It seemed hilarious to the equality representative at Exeter University, where I used to teach, that I should use such a term, and she once asked me in public: “Does that mean that you’re the ‘wife’ in the relationship?”