Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Amis does Atta

Good, strong stuff from Amis:
The worst was yet to come: shaving. Shaving was the worst because it necessarily involved him in the contemplation of his own face. He looked downwards while he lathered his cheeks, but then the chin came up and there it was, revealed in vertical strips: the face of Muhammad Atta. Two years ago he had said goodbye to his beard, after Afghanistan. Tangled and oblong and slightly off-centre, it had had the effect of softening the disgusted lineaments of the mouth, and it had wholly concealed the frank animus of the underbite. His insides were seized, but his face was somehow incontinent, or so Muhammad Atta felt. The detestation, the detestation of everything, was being sculpted on it, from within. He was amazed that he was still allowed to walk the streets, let alone enter a building or board a plane. Another day, one more day, and they wouldn't let him. Why didn't everybody point, why didn't they cringe, why didn't they run? And yet this face, by now almost comically malevolent, would soon be smiled at, and perfunctorily fussed over (his ticket was Business Class), by the doomed stewardess.

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