So thats Carlene Kipps. Tell Mom that she bakes. Just tell her that and then walk away chuckling . . .
Now, listen to this next bit carefully: in the morning the whole kipps family have breakfast together and a conversation together and then get into a car together (are you taking notes?) I know, I know not easy to get your head around. I never met a family who wanted to spend so much time with each other.
I hope you can see from everything Ive written that your feud, or whatever it is, is a complete waste of time. Its all on your side, anyway Monty doesnt do feuds. Youve never even really met just a lot of public debates and stupid letters. Its such a waste of energy. Most of the cruelty in the world is just misplaced energy. Anyway: Ive got to go work calls!
Love to Mom and Levi, partial love to Zora,
And remember: I love you, Dad (and I pray for you, too)
Phew! Longest mail ever!
Date: 14 November
Subject: Hello again
Thanks for forwarding me the details about the dissertation could you phone the department at Brown and maybe get me an extension? Now I begin to see why Zora enrolled at Wellington . . . lot easier to miss your deadline when Daddys the teacher J I read your one-liner query and then like a fool I searched for a further attachment (like, say, a letter???), but I guess youre too busy/mad/ etc. to write. Well, Im not. Hows the book going? Mom said you were having trouble getting going. Have you found a way to prove Rembrandt was no good yet? J
The Kippses continue to grow on me. On Tuesday we all went to the theatre (the whole clan is home now) and saw a South African dance troupe, and then, going back on the tube, we started to hum one of the tunes from the show, and this became full-blown singing, with Carlene leading (shes got a terrific voice) and even Monty joined in, because hes not really the self-hating psychotic you think he is. It was really kind of lovely, the singing and the train coming above ground and then walking through the wet back to this beautiful house and a curried chicken home-cooked meal. But I can see your face as I type this, so Ill stop.
Other news: Monty has honed in on the great Belsey lack: logic. Hes trying to teach me chess, and today was the first time in a week when I wasnt beaten in under six moves, though I was still beaten of course. All the Kippses think Im muddle-headed and poetic I dont know what they would say if they knew that among Belseys Im practically Wittgenstein. I think I amuse them, though and Carlene likes to have me around the kitchen, where my cleanliness is seen as a positive thing, rather than as some kind of anal-retentive syndrome . . . I have to admit, though, I do find it a little eerie in the mornings to wake up to this peaceful silence (people whisper in the hallways so as not to wake up other people) and a small part of my backside misses Levis rolled-up wet towel, just as a small part of my ear doesnt know what to do with itself now Zoras no longer screaming in it. Mom mailed me to tell me that Levi has upped the headwear to four (skullcap, baseball cap, hoodie, duffel hood) with earphones on so that you can only see a tiny, tiny bit of his face around the eyes. Please kiss him there for me. And kiss Mom for me too, and remember that its her birthday a week from tomorrow. Kiss Zora and ask her to read Matthew 24. I know how she just loves a bit of Scripture every day.
Excerpted from On Beauty, (c) 2005 Zadie Smith. Reproduced by permission of Penguin Press. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
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