The Air-Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller

By Henry Miller

In 1939, after ten years as an expatriate, Henry Miller lower back to the USA with a prepared wish to see what his place of birth used to be particularly like—to get to the roots of the yank nature and adventure. He set out on a trip that was once to final 3 years, traveling many sections of the rustic and making pals of all descriptions. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is the results of that odyssey.

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I take a plane to see my father On his death-bed and up there in the clouds, in a raging storm, I overhear two men behind me discussing how to put over a big deal, the big deal involving paper boxes; no less. The stewardess, who has been trained to behave like a mother, a nurse, a mistress, a cook, a drudge, never to look untidy, never to lose her Marcel wave, never to show a sign of fatigue or disappointment or chagrin or loneliness, the stewardess puts her lily-white hand on the brow of one of the paper-box salesmen and in the voice of a ministering angel, says: "Do you feel tired this evening?

A thousand and one such grotesque items could Bit through my brain in a few moments. The cow is tremendously obsessive-and I will never know why. Maybe in the American park I am just a cow chewing a bit of discarded tin foil. Maybe everything I care about has been eroded away and I am just a gaunt idiot whose ribs are cracking under a Southern sun. Maybe I am standing on a dead planet in a scientific film and because everything is strange and new I miss the beauty of it. Maybe my desires are too human, too tangible, too immediate.

She had found God, no doubt, up there in Nigger Heaven. If she was thinking of something else I couldn't tell it. She looked positively ecstatic. No heat, no gas, no water; the windows shattered, the mice making merry. the garbage lying in the gutter. She beckoned to us as though to say: "Come! I am the light of the world! " We got into the car, rode a few blocks and got out to visit another shell crater. The street was deserted except for some chickens grubbing for food between the s1ats of a crumbling piazza.

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