The opening of Isherwood's short novel on loss and grief
A brief excerpt from Christopher Isherwood's superb novel A Single Man, recently adapted into a motion picture by Tom Ford:
Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognised I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself; what's called at home.
But now isn't simply now. Now is also a cold reminder; one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labelled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until - later or sooner - perhaps - no, not perhaps - quite certainly: It will come.
Fear teaks the vagus nerve. A sickish shrinking from what waits, somewhere out there, dead ahead.
But meanwhile the cortex, that grim disciplinarian, has taken its place at the central controls and has been testing them, one after another; the legs stretch, the lower back is arched, the fingers clench and relax. And now, over the entire intercommunication-system, is issued the first general order of the day: UP.
Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man