The Driver's Seat (New Directions Paperbook)
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The Driver’s Seat, Spark’s own favorite among her many novels, was hailed by the New Yorker as “her spiny and treacherous masterpiece.”
Driven mad by an office job, Lise flies south on holiday — in search of passionate adventure and sex. In this metaphysical shocker, infinity and eternity attend Lise’s last terrible day in the unnamed southern city that is her final destination.
starts putting on again the same clothes that she wore on her journey. When she is dressed she folds the dressing-gown, puts the slippers back in their plastic bag, and replaces them in her suitcase. She also puts back everything that she has taken out of her sponge-bag, and packs this away. Now she takes from an inside pocket of her suitcase a brochure with an inset map which she spreads out on the bed. She studies it closely, finding first the spot where the Hotel Tomson is situated and from
in fact, although this is not immediately apparent, the woman’s eyesight is sufficiently dim, her hearing faint enough, to eliminate, for her, the garish effect of Lise on normal perceptions. ‘Oh,’ says Lise, ‘I’m only going to the Centre. I’ve no definite plans. It’s foolish to have plans.’ She laughs very loudly. ‘Thank you, the Centre is fine for me,’ says the woman, taking Lise’s laugh for acquiescence in the sharing of the taxi. And, indeed, they do both load into the taxi and are off.
ice-cream on it. Some new synthetic fabric. As if I would want a dress that doesn’t show the stains!’ Mrs Fiedke, whose eager spirit is slowly returning from wherever it had been to take cover from Lise’s laughter, looks at Lise’s dress and says, ‘Doesn’t hold the stains? Very useful for travelling.’ ‘Not this dress,’ Lise says, working her way through the rainbow ice; ‘it was another dress. I didn’t buy it, though. Very poor taste, I thought.’ She has finished her ice. Again the two women
bracket-lamp hingeing outward and upward to form a wall-lamp. The bed is by day a narrow seat with overhanging bookcases; by night it swivels out to accommodate the sleeper. Lise has put down a patterned rug from Greece. She has fitted a hopsack covering on the seat of the divan. Unlike the other tenants she has not put unnecessary curtains in the window; her flat is not closely overlooked and in summer she keeps the Venetian blinds down over the windows and slightly opened to let in the light.
containing the black and white scarf. She folds this back and with her lipstick she traces on the outside of the bag in large capitals, ‘Olga’. Another package seems to puzzle her. She feels round it with half-closed eyes for a moment, then opens it up. It contains the pair of men’s slippers which Mrs Fiedke had mislaid in the shop having apparently in fact put them in Lise’s bag. Lise wraps them up again and replaces them. Finally she takes out her paperback book and an oblong package which she