The Larkin Ledgers

Like an endless chain of half-built houses


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Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.iv – THE ANGRY DARK

Laying in bed, Auri finds she cannot sleep. Doing a mental inventory, she decides it’s neither the cold, her bitten hand, or loneliness keeping her awake. It’s her treatment of the blanket, stuffed angrily into the wine rack.

No. She knows it’s because of her anger with and ill treatment of the blanket. Despite it no longer being fit for her bed, it’s still worth folding it properly.

She smoothed it gently out across the table, murmuring an apology. And she was sorry. She knew better. Cruelty never helped the turning of the world.

Here something implicit in the text is made obvious. The difference between compassion and cruelty actually affects the world around her; perhaps around us. The former actually assists the turning of the world.

She places the blanket on the bookshelf in Port. She moves some of the other objects nearer to it, to keep it company. She finds the tears that eluded her earlier. Is it another day because she attempted sleep? Does that bend the structural rules that left her bereft, unable to cry on the previous “day?”

She mentally inventories both Port and Mantle. Everything’s in order and it reads like the early pages of the novella. The order is the same, with the additions, like the brazen gear and the amber ring, that she’s added to her collection.

Despite all of this, she felt unsettled. Here, in her most perfect place.

She’s not clear about exactly what’s wrong, though we, as readers, have clues. She’s still focused inwards, on her space, her sense of self.  Her vanity.

She weeps for an hour and we get a sense of Mantle’s size. I’d imagined it as a relatively small, intimate place, but it’s quite large. Having done so, she remains uncomfortable, She checks Port again. She unloads some of her pockets and sits down.

As she sat on the edge of her bed, Auri realized what was out of place . She was herself in disarray. She’d seen something in Tumbrel and not tended to it.

Of course it’s the three mirrored vanity she’d noticed in the flickering light of her spirit lamp. I’ve commented on it before, but I really like the juxtaposition of her own navel gazing with the fortunately named furniture. And it’s marked with three, with mirrors, just in case the word wasn’t enough of a clue.

Still, she doesn’t want to go fix it.  She’s worn out.  Apparently that doesn’t matter, though. She goes through a bit of self denial and recrimination and resolves to get the job, the mending, done.

So she stood and made her slow way back to Tumbrel. Down Crumbledon. Through Wains. Through circle-perfect Annulet and up the unnamed stair.

Annulet. She made the sitting room right earlier, but its name was never given. Now we get it in passing. Literally, it means “little ring.” Circle perfect. Passing through it quietly, since there’s no eureka moment when we discover its name, might also suggest “annul.” Auri’s self is given over to the task, obliterated as she passes through this time.

She takes her time examining the vanity in the sifting light. She considers it from both sides. From above and below.

She tried not to look in the mirrors, knowing how she must appear. An unwashed, red-eyed, tangled mess. Too thin. Too pale.

A nod to her self consciousness and her deliberate rejection thereof. As she owns both the text acknowledges some of the the flaws of her existence. Life in the Underthing may be something of an adventure, but it’s hardly romanticized.

Simonetti 4 Tumbrel

 

This is another image from La Musique du Silence. Marc Simonetti’s vision of the Underthing is somewhat more detailed than Nate Taylor’s and Pat had less involvement with those illustrations. I like this image because it grounds the object in place and context.

Because the vanity looms large in the text, it can seem like a construct floating in space waiting for Auri’s intervention. In the French text it’s simply part of a bedroom set in a ruined room, surprisingly intact and yet still disordered. A bit like Auri herself.

She sits before it anestherd determines that the disarray works. The metaphoric connection continues to operate. It only needs a few adjustments. She swaps two drawers and puts away a hairbrush. Then she hides a brooch.

It’s almost right. The only thing remaining out of place is  “a delicate blue bottle with a twisted silver stopper.” She tries righting it.  She tries polishing it. She tries to find a place for it in a drawer. Nothing seems right.

Turning it over in her hands, she saw tiny letters etched across the bottom of the glass. They read: For My Intoxicating Esther.

Amused, Auri pulls the stopper an inhales. It’s perfume and Auri is delighted by the pun. Rather than some sort of Biblical reference, though who knows I guess, it’s a chemical one. Esters are the volatile compounds that make alcohols and fragrances intoxicating.

Of course she pockets it. The vanity is set right and Auri actually laughs all the way home. She places the bottle on the shelf next to what was formerly her, but now just the, blanket and finally heads to bed.

It’s cold. It’s lonely. But she’s done things the proper way.  And that’s something.


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Reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Part XI.ii – THE ANGRY DARK

On the way back to Mantle, Auri stops at The Silver Twelve, apparently no longer worried it might be black.

All draggled and smirched she took a moment to dunk herself in the pool

I’m willing to be most of us have seen bedraggled and besmirched at some point, but these forms seem to occur more infrequently.  I remember draggle from “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.” Both seem to be older usages which fit in nicely with nekkid and chimbley.

She couldn’t think of going back to Bakery to dry.

I’m starting to think that Bakers, from page 22, might have been an error that made it into print. It appears only the one time, with an illustration. But the other references to Bakery all involve heat and this one specifically drying off. And going back to do so. There could be two places with a similar function, of course. It just seems odd.

She hears a tiny animal in distress. Worried that something might be drowning she panics and runs about without taking proper stock of the situation. She’s still making bad decisions. The world is still against her. And the light from the spirit lamp is uneven and shifting.

And echoes came from everywhere, scattered by the pipes and water in The Silver Twelve, so ears were hardly any help at all.

When I said, in part VII.ii that the nightjar telling her there was a leak in an iron pipe was strange I got some feedback about how there was a simple explanation. Namely that she was unusually accustomed to her environment. While my comment was more about the nightjar and its specific action, this bit seems to imply that under normal circumstances even discerning where a sound is coming from might be difficult.

Anyway, she finds a young skunk in the pool and manages to scoop it out of the water.  It bites her.

It sunk its teeth into the meaty bit between her finger and her thumb.

There’s no real reason to connect this to The Wise Man’s Fear other than the similar description. However, folks have come up with more from less, so it’s worth noting that Kote gets a holly thorn in approximately the same place.

The innkeeper’s fingers fumbled clumsily, snapping the holly branch and jabbing a thorn deep into the fleshy part of his thumb.WMF 15

She’s obliged to endure the pain and hold the rodent carefully cupped in her hands as it scratches her chest and even bites her again.  She navigates by moonlight to Old Ironways where she lets it out of the Underthing through a grate.Simonetti 2

In the French edition of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, La Musique du Silence (Bragelonne), the illustrations are done by Marc Simonetti, cover artist for Pat’s work in much of Western Europe and South America. There aren’t many descriptions of Old Ironways, and I’m unclear where his illustrations fall in the book, but this could be a depiction. There’s a suggestion of railroad tracks, which would make sense given the name.  However, we haven’t heard anything about locomotives in The Kingkiller Chronicle.  Still, it’s interesting, and the art is striking.

Auri walks back to the Silver Twelve and soaks her sore hand. The entire time, it hasn’t been explicit that she wasn’t clothed. In retrospect, it’s obvious, but the text doesn’t make a thing out of it. It’s not focused on her nudity, whether nekkid or naked. It’s possible it even makes a comment on that after she puts her dress back on.

It felt like everything was leering at her in the yellow light.

While she feels that way, the reader isn’t encouraged to leer at her, but rather to experience what’s significant to her. Prurient interest might motivate individual readers to dwell on her body, but for the average reader she simply is, clothed or not. In another parallel with “WHAT A LOOK ENTAILS,” this is the only other chapter to use leering.

She takes the long way back to Mantle so she doesn’t have to pass her mirror. In a sense, she’s avoiding her vanity, which is something that’s addressed rather amusingly later.  I’ll cover it in part XI.iii.

Coming into Port, she saw that nearly everything was wrong. Of course. It was just that sort of day.

Here it’s made explicit that nothing is going right for her. And she can’t help making it worse. She slams the lamp down hard enough to make the flame leap. She moves the bottle of holly berries, which might be another connection to Kote’s puncture wound, considering but ultimately deciding against putting it next to the Book of Secrets.

The Book of Secrets

I wonder, and so have several others, if it’s another copy of the the one Kvothe found in the archives: “a slim volume called The Book of Secrets buried deep in the Dead Ledgers.”WMF 129 Auri’s considered gifting it to him. IS it because of the Chandrian poem?

The Chandrian move from place to place,
But they never leave a trace.
They hold their secrets very tight,
But they never scratch and they never bite.
They never fight and they never fuss.
In fact they are quite nice to us.
They come and they go in the blink of an eye,
Like a bright bolt of lightning out of the sky.

She moves the resin.  She moves the laurel. She moves the stone Amyr. Having the book and the figurine so close together textutally makes me think maybe there is a connection. Heck, the description fits both a Ciridae, and Kvothe himself.

The tiny stone figurine perched high upon the wine rack, as if it were so much better than the rest of them.

She considers taking a bite of the honeycomb purely for pleasure.  But she’s gross and doesn’t want to smirch it.  Which is probably wise.

With Port in order she moves on to Mantle.  She rearranges her cedar box and cleans up the matches from earlier.  Everything else is in order.  Well, almost everything.  We’ll take a look at her blanket next time.

Posts should come regularly this week.