I’m down on the mat wrestling with my larger piece of fiction which is several smaller pieces of related fictions, and have been reading widely for organizational inspiration. Here are tidbits that I’ve found memorable for the ideas they express, for their musicality, for their perspective, for their humor.
[P]erception is then language with which we attempt to grapple with the idea, the concept, the phenomenon [of time]. List any ten speeds for time: summer morning, winter dusk, boring lecture, first time making love with woman you actually really love, drunkenness, moment of death, car crash, heart attack, any and all meetings of more than seven people, childhood, and not one happens at the same speed as the others, some are blindingly fast and over instantly and others drone and moan on until you contemplate removing your spleen with a pepper shaker just for entertainment’s sake.
— Brian Doyle, Mink River
* * *
“Every greedy man-made thing dangling with a price tag
Has sunk into the darkness to be properly cleaned up by the starlight.”
–Nikki Finney, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry
* * *
She looked at Philomena’s orange hair and smoke-colored eyeliner and at Justin’s mangy beard and demonic stare. She could see nothing of what her children had once been.
Bradford lifted his nose from the wineglass.
Did it occur to you that your mother and I actually worked to pay for this chicken? he asked.
Philomena shrugged. Justin said:
The chicken worked harder.
–Thasia Frank, “Enchantment” in Enchantment: New and Selected Stories
* * *
He had never experienced such a sky. In England, where heaven is a low-hung, personal affair, thoroughly identified with the King James Version, a sky such as this would not have been tolerated for a moment. It was a high, pagan explosion of a sky, promising indulgence for all kinds of offenses to which he had not the slightest inclination.
— Shirley Hazzard, “The Worst Moment of the Day” in Collected Stories.
* * *
One morning before dawn it got very cold in the guest room. Grandmother dragged the rag rug up on the bed and pulled some raincoats down from the wall, but they didn’t help much. She supposed it was due to the bog. It’s a funny thing about bogs. you can fill them with rocks and sand and old logs and make a little fenced-in yard on top with a woodpile and a chopping block–but bogs go right on behaving like bogs. Early in the spring they breathe ice and make their own mist, in remembrance of the time when they had black water and their own sedge blossoming untouched.
–Tove Jansson, The Summer Book