Thursday, March 16, 2006

Good things at the LRB

(no subscription required): Jenny Diski (whose writing I love) has an extremely good essay called The Housekeeper of a World-Shattering Theory, reviewing a biography of Sigmund Freud's wife Martha (the essay is distinctive for the extraordinary controlled anger of its voice, the anger being directed at the fact of the exceptional women of that and other generations having had to find their metier, out of some combination of temperament and necessity, in the role of enabling wife--and by the way, this is off topic but just something Diski throws in as an aside, did Princess Margaret really call cocaine "naughty salt"?!?); and see also Bee Wilson's quite wonderful piece about Stephen Youngkin's new biography of Peter Lorre. This is Wilson's opening paragraph:

He thought they looked like two soft-boiled eggs, others preferred to call them poached. Either way, any attempt to describe the appearance of Peter Lorre must deal with those eyes. What teeth are to Julia Roberts and lips to Angelina Jolie, his bulging eyes were to Peter Lorre, his unavoidable calling card and a feature quite out of proportion with the norm. He featured in Looney Tunes more than once as a caricature – just two vast eyes and a menacing whine. Many adjectives have been applied to Lorre’s eyes, but none is adequate to convey their peculiar intensity, the way they veered between kindness and madness, and the manner in which he made them protrude even further when he wrinkled his forehead and wiggled his ears, which he often did. Lorre, who enjoyed disconcerting strangers by staring them down, boasted that it was impossible to look into both his eyes at once. ‘When I worked with actors I liked,’ he reminisced, Humphrey Bogart being the chief example, ‘I taught them how to act with me: “Just pick one eye and look at it. The camera will never know the difference.”’

1 comment:

  1. it's possible that Princess Margaret called cocaine 'Naughty Salt' - characters in "Vile Bodies" refer to it as that, I think.