Monday, July 30, 2012

I've been adrift.  Lost.  Looking for direction.  The ideas that want to save you may, in fact, be your undoing.  But the trying may get you somewhere better.  Or it may wreck you.  Make you want to take a match to the pages that have piled up so far.  But since there is no way to tell, no diagnostic that will make you more certain of your method, you must try.  This is what I tell myself, anyway, as I begin to cut a new path towards the end.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


There is a hollowed-out feeling that I've only ever felt through reading.  It's like there is a vegetable peeler contoured perfectly to the shape of my stomach, and it is working working working its blade against my flesh.  Why, you ask, would this feeling be so pleasurable as to be among one of the very best sensations I can imagine?  I have no idea.  But it does seem like when it happens, when the words begin to carve at my belly, I have a sense of getting closer to something primal.

Some piece of the very basic places where I began:  My little girl fingers, thick and clumsy, my little girl knees, bruised and knobby, my little girl heart, fresh and plump and eager.  

I read The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo this morning.  Cover to cover in one great big heavy sigh.  It is one of those books.  It began in the very first page to work at my stomach and by the end I was crying. Not because it is sad--though it is--but because it was so right.

Then I found these images, created by theatre artists Watoku Ueno and Makoto Takeuchi for the Long Island City Community Library in Queens.  They are beautiful, don't you think?  Ah, happy hollowed-out day.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


sometimes the very best summer day is not one spent in an exotic locale, or even at the beach.  sometimes the very best summer day is one that is surprisingly cloudy; a saturday which you've assigned to the heap of days without work; a day in which the white cover on the bed stretches out alluringly, but you resist; a day in which you can read an entire book about cooking and marvel at its beauty; a day in which you have time to make exactly the meal your littlest has requested; a day in which nothing seems hurried, but the hours are sweetly precious and already you feel nostalgic that it's over.

Monday, July 2, 2012


John Jeremiah Sullivan (what a name!)  had a piece in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine about Absalom! Absalom!  I have always been drawn to the dark, violent messiness of Faulkner, so I read with interest. As I faced diving back into work, a couple of items from the article seemed to holler at me.  Here they are:

1.  The rules Faulkner doesn't ignore in this novel he tends to obliterate.  {Me, on my feet, cheering.}  The plot, for instance.  There is none.  He tells us on the third page (in italics) pretty much everything that will happen in the book, action wise.  {Right, on.  What happens isn't ever the point, is it?}

2.  Sullivan quotes the writer Paul Metcalf, which seems like a rebuttal to revealing your plot all too soon:  "The only real work in creative endeavor is keeping things from falling together too soon."  {Of course!  Suspense involves withholding.  But this is so perfectly put.}

3.  What we discover, though, on advancing into the novel's maze, is that Faulkner has given nothing away, not of the things he most values.  He's not concerned with holding us in suspense over the unearthing of events but in keeping us transfixed as he goes about excavating the soil beneath them. . .


And so, the point is made.  Faulkner did not use the plot to create the necessary suspense, but, rather, the ramifications of plot.  So guess what I'm reading?  Yep.  And as I look at the passages I underlined, it is clear that I was reading with the knowledge that I would have to be writing a paper.  I am hunting for thesis ideas and evidence to throw behind them.  How strange to remember what that kind of reading was like--trying to excavate the excavation.