Nathalie Quintane--from Shoes, p.9


So Kruschev was sitting at a table. He had all the allure so to speak of an important man, the air. And he was, indeed, an important man. But what is this air? A glimmer in the eye (a gaze)? Two fixed shoulders? The air: to be the same standing as seated? The famous thwack of a dossier snapped shut? The hands, laid flat, over this closed dossier? The air: to have your back turned to those facing you? Or this back, expressive in and of itself? The expressivity of this back which speaks volumes, though silent? The bushy air? In short, at this very moment, Kruschev had an air.

Now, all of a sudden, Kruschev swung up his shoe, onto the table, and tapped it several times (always on the table), such that one saw only his shoe. Suddenly, Kruschev was replaced by his shoe: a town shoe, raised in back, almost a clodhopper, without any distinguishing characteristics, in short, banal footwear, most ordinary of shoes. Now, Kruschev was tapping his foot, this shoe, with his hand, or rather, Kruschev's shoe was tapping his foot for him. So that Kruschev disappeared, momentarily, behind it.

Not that he had in fact disappeared, the shoe having taken on, by its elevation upon the table, unusual proportions, but, in the eyes of the onlooker, his air, itself, had altogether vanished, obscured by the sudden lunge of an object certainly banal, though out of place. The shoe was, in any case, much larger than Kruschev's very nose; this, one had to accept. It was at just about the same height as his face, at any rate, placed at its level, one could clearly discern that the shoe framed his face, and his face barely exceeded this frame--partial eclipse of Kruschev's face.