Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goodbye Columbus

Philip Roth, 1959

He pointed to the fluorescent bulbs with the nearly empty champagne bottle. ‘You call that a light? That’s a light to read by? It’s purple, for God’s sake! Half the blind men in the world ruined themselves by those damn things. You know who’s behind them? the optometrists! I’ll tell you, if I could get a couple hundred for all my stock and the territory, I’d sell tomorrow. That’s right, Leo A. Patimkin, one semester accounting, City College nights, will sell equipment, territory, good name. I’ll buy two inches in the Times. The territory is from here to everywhere. I go where I want, my own boss, no one tells me what to do. You know the Bible? “Let there be light – and there’s Leo Patimkin!” That’s my trademark, I’ll sell that too. I tell them that slogan, the poilishehs, they think I’m making it up. What good is it to be smart unless you’re in on the ground floor! I got more brains in my pinky than Ben got in his whole head. Why is it he’s on top and I’m on the bottom! Why! Believe me, if you’re born lucky!’ And then he exploded into silence.

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