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Funny / The Secret History

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In the Novel:

  • Bunny's essay on John Donne.
    And as we leave Donne and Walton on the shores of Metahemeralism, we wave a fond farewell to those famous chums of yore.
  • The frequent spot-on liberal arts school satire.
  • Every single scene involving the owner of Redeemed Repairs.
  • The scene where Richard and Judy Poovey are doing cocaine in the car park. Actually, any scene involving Judy Poovey.
    I listened politely to the rest of her story, which ended, as I knew it would, with Judy being pyrotechnically ill behind a hot-dog stand.
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  • When, due to their extraordinarily formal appearance, Charles and Richard are mistaken for Mormons by a waitress at a diner.
  • A grumpy and sleep-deprived Francis losing his rag with Henry.
    "I don't want a goddamn doughnut!"
  • All Bunny's friends being coerced into staying at the Corcorans' house before the funeral, and the absolute ordeal that ensues.
    • Camilla has to bunk with Marion:
      "Oh, you don't have it so bad," she said. "Last night I had to sleep with Marion."
      "Same room?"
      "Same bed."
      Francis's eyes widened with admiration and horror. "Oh, really? Oh, I say. That's awful," he said in a hushed, respectful voice.
    • Mr Corcoran telling a wildly misremembered story about talking Henry out of buying an aeroplane.
  • Charles insisting that he take a mangy feral cat to Francis's house. Not only does it rough both Francis and Richard up considerably, it then has an attack of diarrhoea in Francis's car.
  • "Asparagus is in season."
  • Henry digging around for ferns in the woods just before the gang's inevitable betrayal.
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  • A great bit of Black Comedy during the otherwise deadly serious climactic scuffle: Richard is shot in the stomach and is offended when everyone's too caught up in the rest of the drama to notice or care.
  • Richard freaks out in the immediate wake of the murder, calls up Henry, and bitterly regrets it.
    "When you're worried about something," said Henry abruptly, "have you ever tried thinking in a different language?"
    "What?"
    "It slows you down. Keeps your thoughts from running wild. A good discipline in any circumstance. Or you might try doing what the Buddhists do."
    "What?"
    "In the practice of Zen there is an exercise called zazen — similar, I think, to the Theravedic practice of vipassana. One sits facing a blank wall. No matter the emotion one feels, no matter how strong or violent, one remains motionless. Facing the wall. The discipline, of course, is in continuing to sit."
    There was a silence, during which I struggled for language to adequately express what I thought of this goofball advice.
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  • Cloke Rayburn, interviewed for an article about the search for Bunny, desperately trying to cover his tracks:
    Cloke Rayburn, a school friend of Corcoran's and one of those who first notified police, said that Corcoran "is a real straight guy—definitely not mixed up in drugs or anything like that."
  • Dr. Blind, who teaches Invariant Subspaces, "noted for its monotony and virtually absolute unintelligibility, as well as for the fact that the final exam, as long as anyone could remember, had consisted of the same single yes-or-no question. The question was three pages long but the answer was always ‘Yes.’ That was all you needed to know to pass Invariant Subspaces."


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