Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nasty Candies


I decided not to give up on Gravity's Rainbow yet, 'cause pages 80-122 were excellent! Really! I was shocked. It went from illucid to superb in about a paragraph; clearly, whatever Pynchon was on when he wrote this book wore off for a while. I only hope the next 640-some pages are half as good.

The best part was "The Disgusting English Candy Drill", in which Officer Slothrop visits a girlfriend's elderly mother and is subjected to all the scary candies that old people love. It reminded me of the website Bad Candy, and also my visits to a neighbor in her 90s who always offered me these strange round slices of bread studded with chunks of jellied fruit that just didn't taste...quite...right. I mean, I think they were fruit, but if so they were the most obscure fruits known to earth. One tasted like topsoil, another was unbearably sour, and these little green bastards were so nasty I can't even begin to describe them. But I'd force a smile and say, "Oh, mmm, this is" and then stop, because I really had no idea what I was eating.

"He reaches in the candy bowl, comes up with a black, ribbed licorice drop. It looks safe. But just as he's biting in, Darlene gives him, and it, a peculiar look...sez, "Oh, I thought we got rid of all those years ago!""

"Darlene has brought a couple-three more candy jars down off the shelf, and now he goes plunging, like a journey to the center of some small, hostile planet..."

"Darlene, pure Nightingale compassion, is handing him a hard red candy, molded like a stylized raspberry... mm, which oddly enough even tastes like a raspberry, though it can't begin to take away that bitterness. Impatiently he bites into it, and in the act knows, f***ing idiot, he's been had once more, there comes pouring out onto his tongue the most godawful crystalline concentratin of, Jeez it must be pure nitric acid..."

One candy "turns out to be luscious pepsin-flavored nougat, chock-full of tangy candied cubeb berries, and a chewy camphor-gum center. It is unspeakably awful. Slothrop's head begins to reel with camphor fumes, his eyes are running, his tongue's a hopeless holocaust. Cubeb? He used to smoke that stuff. "Poisoned..." he is able to croak. "

Then a candy that is "enormous and soft, like a marshmallow, but somehow - unless something is now going seriously wrong with his brain - it tastes like gin. "Wha's 'is," he inquires thickly.
"A gin marshmallow," says Mrs. Quoad. "

Then another: "his teeth, in some perverse reflex, crunching now through a hard sour gooseberry shell into a wet spurting unpleasantness of, he hopes it's tapioca, little glutinous chunks of something all saturated with powdered cloves."

Then, when he inhales some of the clove filling and starts choking, Mrs. Quoad gives him an English coughdrop called a Meggezone, which "is like being belted in the head with a Swiss Alp. Menthol icicles immediately begin to grow from the roof of Slothrop's mouth. Polar bears seek toenail-holds up the freezing frosty-grape alveolar clusters in his lungs."


tshsmom said...

Those raspberry candies, with the liquid center, are soooo GROSS!
The only person, under 70, we ever knew who liked that crap, was Tammy.

Notta Wallflower said...

Ha, ha, you were probably the victim of fruitcake. That's what the bread with the icky candies sounds like to me. My grandma used to make that - it was pretty bad stuff. :-P

Bridget Jones said...

Ummm Tshsmom, I like the raspberry candies. But the rest of that stuff, in the book--good heavens why would the man keep eating after one?

NW's right, that sounds like a bad/old fruitcake. Hate the stuff.

SME said...

That stuff had fruitcake-like qualities, but it was just plain old white bread instead of cake. Very weird.

tshsmom said...

SME, that's Jule Kake(Yule Cake), a Norwegian "delicacy". Yes, it's just bread with that nasty candied fruit. What do you expect from a culture that will eat lutefisk? ;)

BTW, who was the 90 yr old lady that fed you this?

tshsmom said...

Sorry Bridge!
Now I know TWO people, under 70, who like those candies. ;)

SME said...

OMG, that was NORWEGIAN? I'm so ashamed.
That was Mrs. Gates, my neighbor in the north end.