Procol Harum

the Pale

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AWSoP in an American novel

by Jay McInerney

Niels-Erik Mortensen writes to 'Beyond the Pale':

Extract from: Jay McInerney, The Last of the Savages, Bright Light, Big City, Inc., 1996.
Retranslated from the Danish version, Memphis Blues, Munksgaard / Rosinante Publishers, 1997, pages 110-111, 147.

'She introduced herself as Cameron DeVeere, drawing my attention to her friend – a plain girl in a polka dot dress. As Aaron and Cameron strolled away without looking back, I asked the other girl for a dance.

(...) Finally, when I kissed her to the sad chords of A Whiter Shade of Pale, she surrendered to my tongue with an acrid and hostile breath, an oddly scratchy upper lip, while her lack of response annoyed me and I increased my efforts. And when this endless song, in those days the inevitable indication of the close of all mixed college-dances, finally had ended, she bowed rigidly saying, 'I think I'd better find Cameron.'' (p. 110)

'To this very day I feel a tingling of melancholic panic when I hear the first organ chords of A Whiter Shade of Pale.' (p. 111)

''How is Yale then? (...) Surely, you do go to those mixed dances and that sort of things?'

'If I ever again should hear A Whiter Shade of Pale, I'd just have to kill myself.'(p. 147)

Jay McInerney, born 1955, has since his début in 1984 established himself as the critical author of yuppie-US novels. In The Last of the Savages he describes the true, but chaotic friendship between two extremely different young men, who in the end always will be bonded through their love of (rock) music.

In these few extracts, McInerney´s principal character, Patrick Keane, has some depressing experiences with women, obviously for ever linked in his memory to AWSoP. The original title refers to Patrick´s friend Will – he is not only savage, it is his family name, too.

As this pun is impossible to translate – as is The Importance of Being Earnest – the translator chose the very catchy Memphis Blues, suggesting something in between Elvis Presley and the novels of James Lee Burke.

But that is certainly not the case.

More about AWSoP More literary links here and here and here and here

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