Friday, August 20, 2010

People and books

At the NYRB, Timothy Garton Ash remembers Tony Judt:
Tony had a couple of characteristic gestures. There was a motion of the hand, as if cooling it down after touching a hot saucepan or shaking off water. This denoted that something was silly, toe-curling, inauthentic. And there was a sideways inclination of the head, accompanied by a quick, wry lifting of one end of the mouth and a twinkle in the eye. This had multiple applications, ranging from satire and self-deprecation to an attitude that might inadequately be verbalized as c’est la vie. As motor neuron disease (ALS) relentlessly immobilized him, he could no longer make these characteristic gestures; but somehow he still managed to convey them with his eyes.

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