I have been scratching my head over this one – and still am. So, sorry about my incoherent ramblings.
At first it struck me that Vera was another of those plot devices Fante seems to favour – this time most definitely wildly improbable and forced – to extricate Arturo out of the difficulty in which he finds himself. Perhaps it is his fantasy. At any rate, it is “fantastic” and “incomprehensible” to me.
This woman, who lacks confidence as a desirable woman, approaches a man much younger than herself?
Why the attack on his writing? Perhaps it is compensation for her lack of confidence as said desirable woman. Perhaps she knows what she is talking about. I agree with the comment about quoting Millay, which may create that impression for Arturo. Why Millay? is one of about a gazillion questions I have. I looked her up and found she was noted for among other things, her sexual openness and activities. Perhaps she is an aspirational role model, then. Also, interestingly, she “preferred to be called "Vincent" rather than Edna, which she found plain — her grade school principal, offended by her frank attitudes, refused to call her Vincent — instead, he called her by any woman's name that started with a V.”. OK, it’s from Wikipedia, but all the same…
So anyway, our Arturo takes the criticism like the meek little lamb he is. Hmm. And is ultra polite and sensitive besides. No wonder if he is scared.
These two seem to be rather alike. I like the comment about her physical and his emotional scars. They have similar needs. The timing of her arrival is interesting, immediately after he has gone and sat in Camilla’s car waiting for her. She comments on his writing in the same way he does. One minute she’s slating it but then he’s a “genius” and “so talented”. He does that to himself quite often. They both reference writers. They both indulge in uncontrolled actions and then there is the fantasing for the sex. Two of a kind in some ways – his alter ego?
What’s with the odour? “the very peculiar but distinctive odour of decay, sweetish and cloying…” Charming. That smell that impregnates everything. The way he describes it suggests death to me, which would link with the comment about her flesh. That I think is important.
I underlined this: ‘Say, what is this anyway?… Does it matter? You are nobody, and I might have been somebody, and the road to each of us is love’. Also, the comment about her being in an “inferno of her own creation”, because I think in this book, they all are.
So, onto the sex. What is it
with Bandini men and sobbing women? Yet again, when it comes to a sexual situation, communication breaks down”But where were all the words?” I suppose that is because the sex is meaningless. It isn’t intimacy at all. I found it very sad that he tells hmself to find his passion “the way it says in the books”. I hated the leaving of the money.
The reflection afterwards :
Passing people who seemed strange and ghostly: the world seemed a myth, a transparent plane, and all things upon it were here for only a little while: all of us, Bandini, and Hacmuth and Camilla and Vera, all of us were here for a little while, and then we were somewhere else; we were not alive at all; we approached living, but we never achieved it.”
I think that is what the fog is about. You asked in an earlier question about the setting, and I have been wondering about the fog ever since.
And then there is this: “there shall be consolation, and there shall be beauty like the love of some dead girl”. I am sure I read a comment where he states he doesn't in fact love Camilla at all, but some other girl. I can't find it now. All I can find is the account of his love for the woman where he eats her cigarette butt (which I do think is complete make believe for Vera, but with Arturo, who knows?)
And what about that earthquake? (Did the earth move for you too, darling?) Sorry, naughty suec. Far too serious for such flippancy. That bed resembling a man crucified kind of stands out.
Edit: I was struggling with this post last night and that is possibly because the episode is allegorical.
pg. 85 wrote:
“there shall be consolation, and there shall be beauty like the love of some dead girl”. I am sure I read a comment where he states he doesn't in fact love Camilla at all, but some other girl.