Parsing, trees

jacaranda_treeI open China Miéville’s The City and The City with every intention of enjoying it. The first two sentences read:

“I could not see the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed by dirt-coloured blocks, from windows out of which leaned vested men and women with morning hair and mugs of drink, eating breakfast and watching us.”

Can someone parse that second sentence for me? Am I wrong in seeing that “from” as untenable? I ask Z, who says, “he doesn’t know how to put the windows in the blocks.” I agree, and I’m also sensing other, more grammatical clumsinesses. Can I trust Miéville enough to proceed?

June is the only month in which the weather in Southern California is identical with the weather in Southern Ontario: temperatures in the low seventies and grey skies. This is the first year I have flown home so late, the first year I have spent so much of June in California. I thus discovered “June gloom” for the first time – day after day of overcast skies in the land of sun. But I also discovered the jacaranda trees. To my mind, the two things go together. Could these amazing trees, these trees so beautiful they are almost tacky, show off as well in sunshine? I think the way their leafless purple glows as if to stand for the nostalgic distance itself could happen only against a background of grey haze.

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2 thoughts on “Parsing, trees

  1. The blocks could be buildings as opposed to streets. But whether or not that’s the case, the question in my mind is: can one be enclosed from something? Perhaps the author’s intent is that it is the windows in the dirt-coloured blocks that are keeping him from seeing the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed from windows, [ie: the windows are doing the enclosing], and thus could not see the street or much or much of the estate.

  2. About gloomy days. I remember a friend named Ken, from Philly, who rejoiced in grey days. “They help you to see more intensely.” I thought the comment was unfortunate. Ken had had grey days in his life. Too many. Now I know he was right. I prefer the sun. I enjoy the gloom.

    As C.S. Lewis says somewhere: “We’ve decided to like weather.”

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