Go read this: “The Angel of History” by Rabih Alameddine. (Here’s a review if you want a synopsis.) My dad introduced me to this author last year (with his novel “An Unnecessary Woman”) and then I just happened across this new(er) novel in the library on Saturday. It was So!GOOD! And so literate and compelling.
- caisson = a large watertight chamber; a chest or wagon
- chelonian = basically turtle-esque
- jellabiya = traditional Egyptian garment
- dithyrambic = a frenzied impassioned hymn and dance; an irregular poetic expression; a wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing
- rachitic = rickety; like having a inflammed spine
- recrudescent = revival of material; recurrence of symptoms; renewal
- inanition = exhaustion; lack of mental or spiritual vigor
- cephalore = a saint who is generally depicted carrying their own head
Cephalore was my favorite. 🙂 Inanition I do feel like I should have already known, heh.
I was also really proud of myself for picking up on random literary/musical references:
- “I couldn’t write, I couldn’t write, stop all the clocks, poetry has gone and left me…” (W.H. Auden reference, a poem I JUST taught my students!).
- “Hope might be the thing with feathers but in the Middle East we hunt those birds for sport. (Dickinson)
- “I sound like a Miles Davis trumpet, like a Bach partita, no, wait, a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, whereas you’re a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop, but baby, if you’re the bottom, I’m the top.” (Cole Porter)
- “Do you understand me now, Satan said, when things go wrong I seem to be bad, I”m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” (Nina Simone, et al.)
(I’m sure there were more I didn’t notice!!)