One small housekeeping note for Your Face This Spring participants. If you want to see an easily browsable list of all the posts written for this venture, click here.
Now then, a couple of things I wanted to point out from the first 20 or so pages of the segment of Fever and Spear that we’re reading this week.
- For those not reading along, Bertie Tupra is this mysterious, vaguely spyish guy that our narrator, Jacobo Deza, meets at a party in his friend Wheeler’s house (an 80-year-old British knight and veteran of the Spanish Civil War). Given what we eventually discover about the nature of Tupra’s line of work, as well as the role that Deza will play in it, this paragraph really stood out for me. To set the scene: Wheeler’s party has ended about an hour ago and he and Deza are talking. Deza inquires about this beautiful woman that Tupra was kind of with throughout the night, and Wheeler explains that it was Tupra’s estranged wife, whom Tupra is hoping will get back together with him. Then Deza says:
“He must have it really bad,” I said, “he must be completely blind if he’s only ‘worried.’ It stands out a mile that she’s more interested in almost any other possible future than in a present existence spent by his side. Obviously I can’t be sure, but, I don’t know, it was as if from time to time she would suddenly remember that she was supposed to be trying to win back her husband, which, as you say, is her announced intention, and then she would try a bit harder for a while, or, rather, she would apply herself to routinely pleasing or even flattering him . . .” 
Now given Tupra’s line of work, which relies extremely heavily on judging character and separating intention from appearance, I found this whole plotline and exchange of more than a little importance. Not quite sure where Marias is going with it, but I’m definitely keeping an eye out.
- Then there’s this remark of Deza’s on the next page:
The hardest part about fictions is not creating, but maintaining them, because, left to their own devices, they tend to fall apart. It takes a superhuman effort to keep them in the air. 
- And lastly, what the hell is up with Wheeler’s socks? I count at least three points in the post-party conversation where Deza expresses strong distress over the state of Wheeler’s socks slipping down his legs. When he finally overcomes his misgivings and appraises Wheeler of the situation, we get this odd exchange:
“Peter,” I said, perhaps out of superstition, and showing a definite lack of prudence, “I don’t know if you realise, but your socks have slipped down.” And I managed to point with one timid finger at his ankles. . . .
“Another time I would have been infinitely grateful to you for pointing that out, Jacobo. But it’s of little importance now.” [107-8]