Category Archives: reading

Heavenly, challenging prose

From “Unexplained Presence” by Tisa Bryant:

What we have is Woolf’s then in our now. Parse the registers. The cusp between them dark as oil, snaking and slick, cleaving the land with a liquid that moves dusky beings on ships and barges from one country to the next. We talk to the page, the screen, or the scrim of imagination. How to be a man? A woman? See to the mark: there, there, and there. And we are? Where? Reading the figures of time, image after image after image.

We add our voices to history and bodies move across time. Lineage, not forgetfulness, is spoken and does not define and demarcate “us” from “them”.

Her prose blows the top of my head off. I love it that I can’t even really say what she means. I love that I will read the 8 or 9 page piece more than once and let the words flow over me in a delirium of appreciation (much the way I did with Woolf’s fiction in college) and STILL not necessarily know what she means.

Here is a link exploring Tisa Bryant‘s, including some taped remarks.

And there’s this.

Possible keys

Mary Oliver : “The best use of literature bends not toward the narrow and absolute but to the extravagant and the possible. Answers are no part of it; rather it is the opinions, rhapsodic persuasions, the engrafted logics, the clues that are to the mind of the reader the possible keys to his own self-quarrels, his own predicament.”

In class this week, we read Sunday’s NY Times Book Review interview with an author: Fran Lebowitz. These columns invariably make me feel stupid: the books on the author’s bedside are weighty; I’ve often never heard of their favorite writers, never mind read them; their pithy, intellectual observations about books I have read, don’t ring any bells. That’s part of why Fran Lebowitz’s responses were so refreshing. They were so NOT that. Also, she’s just hilarious. Read the interview for a wholly different take on the best use of literature.

Meanwhile, it snows. Time seems out of joint. REALITY seems out of joint. My sister is not well. In between tough personal conversations and the outrageous stories of intrigue coming from Pennsylvania Avenue, I sew, I clean, I walk the dog. And sometimes I edit. This was a good week. I may have put four chapters to bed.

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And, there’s always food! Tonight: roast chicken with cornbread stuffing and a delicious salad. The bird’s sizzle and aroma say: home, comfort. Plus, it’s Friday.

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Lastly, from a TED talk about belief and doubt that I listened on my way up to Salem yesterday, one person’s answer (I think it was Billy Graham) to the question: so what has surprised you the most in your many years? He said, “the swiftness with which life passes.”

“The swiftness with which life passes.”

That, too, is on my mind.