The Fiery Furnaces

Eleanor was constantly ridiculed in the crudest and least interesting manner by her brother Matthew. He, for his part, had to suffer such things as her coming in the room, and various other affronts, for instance talking, or watching the TV show she wanted, or putting on a record she might like to hear.

So Eleanor had to hide her likes and dislikes until he left. It was a beautiful day. She stood at a second-floor window, watching as Dad drove Matt off, and roughly, excitedly, triumphantly put Houses of the Holy into the CD player, turning up the volume on what used to be her brother’s stereo.

You see Matthew had only liked the Who. He had Who records and videotapes, and as a youth, down in the basement, he tried to make Who noises. But he failed, miserably, and with black jealousy guarded the scene of his humiliation and insufficiency, that basement, where he kept the tape recorder. In fact, Eleanor was hit over the head, stabbed in the knee and smashed on the foot for coming down in the basement. But that didn’t make his songs any better.

Years later, when Matthew—his pride gone, his spirit, such as it was, crushed—encouraged Eleanor to come down in the basement to make their first Fiery Furnaces music together, maybe he should have hit and stabbed and smashed at her. But he just swore. Things had changed.


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