Moon Palace (Paul Auster)

Thomas Effing

– 86 year old
– in a wheelchair
– his life is based on two people:
          Mrs. Hume (housekeeper)
          Marco Stanley Fogg (takes care of him)
– provokes his environment with sudden experiments and inspirations
– Marco has to tolerate his moods
– almost blind (he wears patches over his eyes or glasses with metal frames and preposterously thick lenses).
– habitude to slurp the soup and to give strange noises during dinner
– surrounded by strangers he turns into a real “gentleman”
– feels threatened and accuses Mrs Hume of robbing him of his money or of poisoning his food (cp.115).
– full of principles and clearly defined visions
– regulated life which must be kept under all
– monotonous attitude to life.
– friendship with Pavel Shum
– hates every kind of technology .
– showing feelings = weakness
– introvert and saves his feelings like a treasure (cp. P. 131).
– soft
– sense for detailed, precise and concentrated views
– had been a painter with deep passion.
– millionaire by inheriting.

  • p. 112: “Whenever Effing sensed that I was staring at him, he would immediately bring out an even more repulsive battery of tricks: letting the food dribble out of his mouth and down his chin, burping, feigning nausea and heart attack, removing his false teeth and putting them on the table.”
  • p. 115: “There was also the responsibility of talking to Effing in such a way that he was kept under verbal control. When it came to that, she [Mrs. Hume] conducted herself with all the skill of an experienced prostitute manipulating a difficult client. No request was too absurd to be denied, no suggestion could shock her, no comment was too outlandish not to be taken seriously.”
  • p. 122: “We always ended up our morning sessions with a thorough scanning of the obituary pages. These seemed to hold Effing’s attention more firmly than the other articles, and I was sometimes astonished to see how closely he listened to the colorless prose of these accounts. […] Finally, after almost two weeks of saving them for the end, he abandoned the pretense of wanting to hear the news at all and asked me to turn to the obituary page first.”
  • Effing rushes into a confusing discourse about his past (p. 131): “New Jersey. It was like going to the end of the goddamned earth. Orange, East Orange, fuck the name. Edison was in one of those towns, too. He didn’t know Ralph, though, probably never heard of him. Ignorant asshole. Fuck Edison. Fuck Edison and his goddamned lightbulb.”
  • p. 133: “Don’t you know anything about painting? I thought you were supposed to be educated. What the hell did they teach you in that fancy college of yours, Mr. Smart Ass? [M. S. Fogg]”
  • p. 143: “I saw one of them myself when I was just a wee little thing, it made me piss in my pants. They’d bring up animals onto the stage and electrocute them. Dogs, pigs, even cows. They’d kill them right before your eyes. That’s how the electric chair got invented. Edison cooked it up to show the dangers of alternating current, and then sold it to Sing Sing prison, where they’re still using it to this day. Lovely, isn’t it
  • If the world weren’t such a beautiful place, we might all turn into cynics.”
  • p. 145: “There’s a cult out in California today that worships Tesla as an extraterrestrial. You don’t have to take my word for it. I’ve got some of their literature in the house, and you can see for yourself. Pavel Shum used to read it to me on rainy days. It’s riotous stuff. Makes you laugh so hard, you think your belly’s going to split in two.”
  • p. 147: “Pavel was sitting on a bench beside me, and just ten or twelve feet away from us there was this old man feeding the pigeons. He was standing up, and the birds were fluttering all around him, landing on his head and arms, dozens of cooing pigeons, shitting on his clothes and eating out of his hands, and the old man kept talking to them, calling the birds his darlings, his sweethearts, his angels.”
  • p. 151: “I was a dapper young gentleman, money was no object, my groin was constantly ablaze. Ha! I wish we had time to talk about some of that. The pulsing quims I’ve inhabited, the adventures of my middle leg. The other two might be defunct, but their baby brother has kept up a life of his own.”
  • p. 154: “God knows how many pioneers bogged down and gave up the ghost in that desert, you’d see their white bones jutting straight out of the ground. That’s what did in the Donner party, everyone knows about them. They got stuck in the salt, and by the time they reached the Sierra Mountains in California, the winter snows blocked their way, and they fell to eating each other to stay alive. Everyone knows that, it’s American folklore, but a true fact nevertheless, a true and unimpeachable fact. Wagon wheels, skullbones, empty bullet shells – I saw all those things out there, even as late as 1916. A giant cemetery was what it was, a blank page of death.”
  • p. 161: “I buried him right there at the foot of the mountain. I’ll spare you the details. Digging the grave, dragging his body to the edge, feeling it fall away from me when I pushed it in. I was already going crazy by then, I think. I almost couldn’t bring myself to fill in the hole. Covering him up, flinging dirt onto his dead face, it was all too much for me. I did it with my eyes closed, that’s how I finally saw the problem, I shoveled the dirt back in there without looking. Afterward, I didn’t make a cross or say any prayers. Fuck God, I said to myself, fuck God, I won’t give him the satisfaction.”
  • p. 166: “Along the left wall he found a bed, and in the bed there was a man. Effing assumed the man was asleep, but when he cleared his throat to announce his presence and got no response, he bent down and held the candle over the stranger’s face. It was then that he saw he was dead. Not just dead, but murdered. In the place where the man’s right eye should have been, there was a large bullet hole. The left eye stared blankly into the darkness, and the pillow under the head was splattered with blood.”
  • p. 180: “The man at the table jerked his head up sharply when Effing appeared, then stared at him in horror. “Jesus fucking Christ,” the man whispered. “You’re supposed to be dead”.”
  • p. 180: “Effing recocked the rifle and pointed it at the second brother, who was hastily trying to scramble out of his bedroll on the floor. Offing killed him with one shot as well, hitting him square in the face with a bullet that tore out the back of his head, carrying it across the room in a spurting mess of brains and bone.”
  • p. 184: “He had already told me that Effing was a pun, and unless I had misread him in some crucial way, I felt I knew where it had come from. In writing out the word Thomas, he had probably been reminded of the phrase doubting Thomas. The gerund had then given way to another: fucking Thomas, which for convention’s sake had been further modified into f-ing. Thus, he was Thomas Effing, the man who had fucked his life. Given his taste for cruel jokes, I imagined how pleased he must have been with himself.”
  • Before dying, Effing left a bag for Marco, who suspects a kind of bomb (p. 226): “One last prank from the other side of the grav