Archive for the ‘quotes’ Category

Summer is ending.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I’ve been reading some poetry by Alice Fulton recently, and simultaneously her lone novel, the Nightingales of Troy.  I love when poets write fiction, because it is truly the most beautiful fiction.  Aspects of Fulton’s fiction remind me slightly of Lorrie Moore, but this is more a comparison of subject matter (not to say that all writers writing wittily about women and their relationships with other women are reminiscent of Lorrie Moore, although in some ways that would be nice) than prose.

This book takes place sparsely over a century, but this passage is from 1999:

Your father’s hotel isn’t what it used to be,” she said when she returned.  “It’s like Père Lachaise up there.  Dark.  Really dark.  With bottles, syringes, and graffiti everywhere.  There was nobody at the desk, and somebody yelled down, Who youse looking for?  Then a big burly guy appeared.  He opened a drawer full of guns and knives.  I was thinking, if we get to choose our weapons, I’ll choose grammar.

Fulton makes for excellent nighttime reading, when summer is ending and the nights are so noisy.  I have been falling asleep reading How to Eat Supper (this hasn’t changed my dreams like I’d hoped it would–they’re not about food or anything).  I am learning so much from this book–this book is meant to be read and absorbed, not just glanced at, like other cookbooks, I think–and feel like all of my dietary habits are lackluster (popcorn for dinner, anyone?) and need to change.  The new semester is about to start, and all the new freshman are arriving with their little refrigerators and their excited parents with their “I’m a Pitt mom!” hoodies and I don’t wish I were moving into a dorm but I do wish I were going back to school (in a more substantial way).   The best thing about a new semester starting is it gives even non-degree seeking students (me!  hi!) a change to reevaluate and set new goals and work towards something different.  I wish I could buy a new Trapper-Keeper or planner or something exciting.  That would feel substantial.

Starting my weekend off with a little rage

Friday, August 13th, 2010

From Garret Keizer’s very excellent Notebook piece in September’s Harper’s (titled “Why dogs go after mail carriers”):

I don’t want to be a seraph or a sunbeam but a citizen, that is, to live in a physical body and a geographical community, bounded by time and space and served in full equality by incarnate fellow citizens like Shirley B.  I’ll keep my email, thank you, but let my “primary communications carrier” be a unionized worker with his feet on the sidewalk and no wings on his feet.  If I have to wait an extra day or two for a parcel, I can bear it.  I’ve already waited half a century for national health care, and I am likely to be as dead as an undeliverable letter by the time all its provisions go into effect.  It you want to talk about things that move at a snail’s pace, might I suggest aiming your metaphor in that direction.

On summer

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I gave Woodcuts of Women by Dagoberto Gilb my undivided attention the last two days.  I’m glad I did.  Gilb is a superb writer.

From page 128 of his story “Bottoms,” a paragraph that makes me think of the here & the now, in what seems to be the middle of Pittsburgh summer already:

Though I follow curves that never seem to unbank, my intention is to learn to straighten out, to get along and be simple too.  I am tired and I hurt.  I want blue swimming-pool calm even if it’s crowded.  It’s hard for me to even walk to my pool.  The asphalt is hot, it’s a hill up and then down from the complex which is my home, in and out of the dappled light through a shade of trees.  My feet ache.  I have no explanation for that because I swear I am in healthy shape.  Compared to most, I’m sure of it.  It’s the hot summer.  The quiet–cicadas and grackles and hedge trimmers and nail guns–sounds like the heat.  I wear a baseball cap because I don’t want my face to burn.  That sun.  I can take the humidity, even like it.  I believe in the sweat, because sweat is religious, cleansing and purifying.  But not the direct sun.  Hide from that sun on the skin.  And dark glasses.  Though I like the light, the daylight, sunlight.  And I feel too much darkness in me.  I seek light but not an Anglo sunburn.

I am reluctant to turn this book back in to the library.  I kind of want to hold on to it indefinitely.

From page 131 of the same story, there is this all-too-familiar feeling:

I try to read.  I have told myself to get through it fast and then see what I can come up with.  But I don’t get it, or maybe I’m tired of reading, tired tired, a delirium tremendum of images, trembling with dread and sadness and defeat and lust and desire and love.

And back this goes to storage, although I am sad to see it go.  I feel personally affronted when books that I am delighted by are in storage (why don’t people love these books as much as I do?).  Things to not take personally, right here.

ghosts of wounded knee

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Within December’s issue of Harper’s there is an article written by Matthew Power, with accompanying photographs by Aaron  Huey, titled the “Ghosts of Wounded Knee.”   I try very hard to not preach about my love of print media, but I have always very much loved the look of photos within Harper’s, as well as the font and the spacing and the style, blah blah, and Huey’s photos simply shine in this format.  This article is goddamn poetry.  I have always very much admired Power’s writing, but what was once simple admiration is now through the roof.  You, sir, are getting a letter from me.  The photographs are stark, and implying that they are telling does not do them justice.  My love of stories from the  Pine Ridge reservation is nothing new or surprising, but Power’s words & Huey’s photos churned my stomach all the more.  The interviews within are beyond hopeless, the stories are heartbreaking, and I can’t recommend it enough.

From an interview:

We’re Lakota warriors, and we should be able to take care of ourselves, but all we get is just the VA checks.  A VA check won’t even buy you a house.  I don’t know what’s going on.  I don’t care.  I hang out with all my homeless veteran buddies.  I’d rather be up here than be a burden on them.  I’d rather beg for food than beg them for food.  Soemtimes I see some of my friends, and they’re so very hungover.  See, we drink and we get drunk, and we sing, we take turns to sing military songs, we sing cadence or we sing Lakota songs.  Then we go to sleep.  Next day we do it again.  We don’t have no family anymore.

If nothing else, at least stop in Borders and flip through these pictures.

(disclaimer: on love)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

So where do we start?  Love may or may not produce happiness; whether or not it does in the end, its primary effect is to energize.  Have you ever talked so well, needed less sleep, returned to sex so eagerly, as when you were first in love?  The anemic begin to glow, while the normally healthy become intolerable.  Next, it gives spine-stretching confidence.  You feel you are standing up straight for the first time in your life; you can do anything while this feeling lasts, you can take on the world.  (Shall we make this distinction: that love enhances the confidence, whereas sexual conquest merely develops the ego?)  Then again, it gives clarity of vision; it’s a windshield wiper across the eyeball.  Have you ever seen things so clearly as when you were first in love?

Taken from pages 231-2 of “Parenthesis,” within A History of the World in 10 and 1/2 Chapters, by Julian Barnes.   I usually turn to Barnes to make me laugh, and that is why this essay was so shockingly gorgeous the first time I read it a few years ago.   I find something new, enchanting and quotable every time I glance at it.  Sometimes a girl just needs to cry at a lovely essay, right?

And, of course, it just wouldn’t be proper to quote Barnes without revealing just how fucking funny he is, so:

Should love be taught in school?  First term: friendship; second term: tenderness; third term: passion.  Why not?  They teach kids how to cook and mend cars and fuck one another without getting pregnant; and the kids are, we assume, much better at all of this than we were, but what use is any of that to them if they don’t know about love?


Overly predictable

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

In unsurprising news, I adored My Invented Country.  In surprising news, I’m switching it up.  Next book, I’m back to Erdrich.  But this first, a thing about Isabel Allende that makes me smile wildly when I think about her: she’s funny and makes me think about the States with weird new eyeballs.

“The North Americans’ sense of time is very special.  They are short on patience.  Everything must be quick, including food and sex, which the rest of the world treats ceremoniously.  Gringos invented two terms that are untranslatable into most languages: “snack” and “quickie,” to refer to eating standing up and loving on the run…that, too, sometimes standing up.  The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on.  People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and failure in any of its aspects.” (pg 188)

A thing I love

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

These three people slept and dreamed, while outside the house the moon grew large, and seemed to move across the sky until it was out over the ocean and growing smaller and paler. In his dream, someone is offering Myers a glass of Scotch, but just as he is about to take it, reluctantly, he wakes up in a sweat, his heart racing.

Sol dreams that he is changing a tire on a truck and that he has the use of both of his arms.

Bonnie dreams that she is taking two–no, three–children to the park. She even has names for the children. She named them just before the trip to the park. Millicent, Dionne, and Randy. Randy keeps wanting to pull away from her and go his own way.

Soon, the sun breaks over the horizon and birds begin calling to each other. The Little Quilcene River rushes down through the valley, shoots under the highway bridge, rushes another hundred yards over sand and sharp rocks, and pours into the ocean. An eagle flies down from the valley and over the bridge and begins to pass up and down the beach. A dog barks.

At this minute, Sol’s alarm goes off.

From Raymond Carver’s short story, Kindling (in the collection Call if You Need Me). I often try to explain to people why I love Carver so much, and I usually find myself incapable of doing so. When I was 16 I read my first collection of Carver stories (Cathedral) and I immediately fell in love with his writing. At times when I am feeling restless and unable to read long works of fiction, I turn to Carver and fall back in love again. I find Call if You Need Me a really, really wonderful collection: fiction, personal essays, a fragment of the novel he never finished, and some of Carver’s book reviews–which I particularly love for their sparsity and conciseness. Man, Ray, do I ever miss you.

Of the suburbs

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Something that makes me smile:

“It is the bottom of the day, the deep well of shadows and springy half-light when late afternoon becomes early evening and we all want to sit down in a leather chair by an open window, have a drink near someone we love or like, read the sports and possibly doze for a while, then wake before the day is gone all the way, walk our cool yards and hear the birds chirp in the trees their sweet eventide songs. It is for such dewy interludes that our suburbs were built. And entered cautiously, they can serve us well no matter what our stations in life, no matter we have the aforementioned liberty or don’t. At times I can long so for that simple measure of day and place–when, say, I’m alone in misty Spokane or chilly Boston–that an unreasonable tear nearly comes to my eye. It is a pastoral kind of longing, of course, but we can have it all.”

From Richard Ford’s the Sportswriter.

To whom would I recommend this book? Not people who want a quick read–this book took me a little under a month to finish. People who aren’t necessarily the best kinds of people. People who sometimes find small bits of wonder in every day things. Frank Bascombe is my favorite kind of hero: the one who’s entirely unaware, the one who isn’t even really a hero at all. I loved this book. I’m so happy to have finished it–it was rough there for a bit.