The dress she would wear was laying out on the bed. Hazel and Etta had both been good about lending her their best clothes – considering that they weren’t supposed to come to the party. There was Etta’s long blue crêpe de chine evening dress and some white pumps and a rhinestone tiara for her hair. These clothes were really gorgeous. It was hard to imagine how she would look in them.
“Take it off, Carrie. We’ll go down and burn it in the incinerator together, and then pray for forgiveness. We’ll do penance.” Her eyes began to sparkle with the strange, disconnected zeal that came over her at events which she considered to be tests of faith. “I’ll stay home from work and you’ll stay home from school. We’ll pray. We’ll ask for a Sign. We’ll get us down on our knees and ask for the Pentecostal Fire.”
He saw her hunched over the table, the fabric surrounding her like a moat. He failed to see the point of it. They weren’t lovers like that. They slept together, they drank together, they laughed together. But they did not holiday together. They did not go to parties together. No, they did not make plans together.
Odile had learned that a pregnant woman in need of cheap vestments had precious few options in Scotts Valley, California. In Aptos, there was Jet Set Bohemian, but they didn’t have much for the third trimester. Capitola had a Clothes Cottage, a place called Wardrobe, and one of those expensive chains with the beat-a-dead-horse name Motherhood Maternity, the only place she hadn’t gone yet.
The Romantic poem ‘Dialogue Between Fashion and Death’ is curious and resonating work that deals with the powerful connection between dress and mortality. The piece presents ‘Fashion’ as a fictional character in conversation with ‘Death’, that is, like Death, actively responsible for human suffering.
James Agee’s seminal novel Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was published in 1941 with Walker Evans’ poignant photographs at the height of the Great Depression. During Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ program, the pair were commissioned for eight weeks in America’s South to document the living conditions of sharecropper workers.
Written in 1922, and later translated to English in 1951, Siddhartha is a seminal work by the German author Hermann Hesse. The cultural influence of Siddhartha reached its apex in the context of the Sixties, in the burgeoning hippy era of the time, but the book has lasting resonance as a point of reference of early contact for the West with the alternative philosophies and narratives that became increasingly popular to experiment and explore with.
The day dawned bleak and chill, a moving wall of grey light out of the north-east which, instead of dissolving into moisture, seemed to disintegrate into minute and venomous particles, like dust that, when Dilsey opened the door of the cabin and emerged, needled laterally into her flesh, precipitating not so much a moisture as a substance partaking of the quality of thin, not quite congealed oil.