“…after a little difficulty with a landlord who woke up one morning convinced he was Charles de Gaulle…” – Probably just a simple reference to how difficult de Gaulle was to deal with. Also one of many WWII homages.
“…I’d already told him how in my humble estimation he did not at all resemble an airport…” Charles de Gaulle Airport not surprisingly the de Gaulle reference probably went over Johnny’s head which he immediately thought of the more modern reference being the airport.
“…Chuckie de Gaulle burnt the place to the ground…told the police a 757 had crashed into it.” this is an excellent example of Johnny’s humor. He has this dark style. It’s similar to Zapano’s humor in the way Johnny later describes as morbid jokes told between soldiers holed up in trenches to pass the time.
“nom de plume…nom de guerre” nom de plume is french for pen name. Nom de guerre is french for name of war. This is the first time we start to see a theme of war and conflict in the language of this book.
“Ever see yourself doing something…” This sentence sets the entire president for the book. Everything that every character has to go through boils down to this feeling of something dark looming in ones past that haunts them.
“…they’re part of the history…” history plays a large theme in this book.
“…the cats had begun to disappear.” cats, particularly big cats (such like lions, tigers, panthers ect) play a role in the story but I’m not entirely sure what their significance is as a theme.
“…a patina upon progressive patina of odor…” here is an example of the very creative use of words MZD uses, particularly with Jonny’s entries. Patina being green layers created on bronze through age and/or use.
Deracinated – uprooted, fitting the theme of leaves, trunks, roots, branches and basically trees also play a theme in the book.
rood – a cross or crucifix. Christianity plays a theme in here too.
Maginot line – another reference to WWII
Joel-Peter Witkin – MZD makes many references to famous photographers, most of which fit the same themes as Will Navidson usually takes such as war, famine, death.
“out of the blue…” Johnny says this more than any other turn of phrase. Blue is one of 4 colours repeatedly mentioned: blue, green, yellow and red.
“Zampano had seven names he would occasionally mention…” prepare for a lot of references to mythology and religion, this being the first about the seven mythical Pleiads Sisters.
- 3 medals of honor from the French government: A Godmother to Ravensbrück Survivors (warhistoryonline.com)
- This Day in History ~ Feb 15, 1966: DeGaulle offers to help end Vietnam War… (sector7studio.la)
- Charles de Gaulle: First White House Visitor Following World War II Peace (ghostsofdc.org)