Over the past year, Speedboat kept coming up over and over, referenced in essays and other books, recommended by friends. While it’s called a novel, it’s so fragmented that any disconnected arcs are hard to link in any meaningful way. I found it pleasurable to read, despite the challenge of it. By the end I found some sense of cohesiveness, though not in any traditional sense; it might have been more that I ﬁnally stopped resisting any attempt to ﬁnd hidden threads that exposed the logic under these groupings of seemingly mundane anecdotes. It’s similar to Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Aﬀects, but probably more jarring in its disjointedness.
The wallﬂower sat reading in the Paris restaurant. There used to be so many categories of wallﬂower: the anxious, smiling, tense ones who leaned forward, trying; the important, busy, apparently elsewhere preoccupied ones, who were nonetheless waiting, waiting in the carpeted oﬃces of their inattention, to be found. There were wallﬂowers who clustered noisily together, and others who worked a territory, resolute and alone. And then, there were wallﬂowers who had recognized for years that the thing was hopeless, who had found in that information a kind of calm. They no longer tried, with a bright and desperate eﬀort, to sustain a conversation with somebody’s brother, somebody’s usher, somebody’s roommate, somebody’s roommate’s usher’s brother, or, worst of all, with that male wallﬂower who ought — by God who ought — to be an ally, who could, in dignity and the common interest, join forces to make it through an evening, but who, after all, had higher aspirations, and neither the sense nor the courtesy to conceal it, who, in short, scorned the partner fate and the placement had dealt him, worst of all. The category of wallﬂower who had given up on all this was very quiet, not indiﬀerent, only quiet. And she always brought a book.