Among the very large collection of phonograph records which the Library maintained were perhaps a hundred which Mr Kelso called his Horrible Examples. These were pieces of music which he despised, sung or played by people whose manner of interpretation he despised … It had taken Pearl a long time to recognize and admit to herself that just as there were times when she had to buy and eat a dozen doughnuts in one great sensual burst, there were also times when the Horrible Examples, and nothing else, were the music she wanted to hear.
– Robertson Davies, Leaven of Malice
I don’t remember when I first read this book (though my copy has a bookmark in it, from a BC dance company in 2004), but the above-quoted section has always stuck with me. Listening to music while eating something decadent, creating a very specific sensory environment in which to work out the details of your life. She’s described as “sprawled in a large armchair, her head resting on one arm and her legs dangling over the other.” Who wouldn’t want to do that right now?
I found myself thinking about it again and wanted to write it down for posterity’s sake. And it takes place on November 1st, too, which is appropriate!