I'm never sad when a friend goes far away, because whichever city or country that friend goes to, they turn the place friendly. They turn a suspicious-looking name on the map into a place where a welcome can be found. Maybe the friend will talk about you sometimes, to other friends that live around him, and then that's almost as good as being there yourself. You're in several places at once! In fact, my daughter, I would even go so far as to say that the further away your friends, and the more spread out they are the better your chances of going safely through the world...
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First you try to find a reason, try to understand what you've done so wrong so you can be sure not to do it anymore. After that you look for signs of a Jekyll and Hyde situation, the good and the bad in a person sifted into separate compartments by some weird accident. Then, gradually, you realize that there isn't a reason, and it isn't two people you're dealing with, just one. The same one every time.
What do you want, Mary Foxe? My husband?" 'I believe in him, " she said slowly. I wondered if she'd ever told him that, and if so, what he had to say about it. Someone you made up turns around and tells you they believe in you- what response could you possibly make? The scenario is just plain weird. And really kind of impertinent on her part, too. If it happened to me I think I'd be speechless for the rest of my life.
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Our favorite film is Vertigo. Amy Eleni and I must watch it seventeen or eighteen times a year, and with each viewing our raptness grows looser and looser; we don't need the visuals anymore-one or the other of us can go into the kitchen halfway through and call out the dialogue while making up two cups of Horlicks. From the minute you see empty, beautiful, blond Madeleine Elster, you know she is doomed because she exists in a way that Scottie, the male lead, just doesn't. You know that Madeleine is in big trouble, because she's a vast wound in a landscape where wounds aren't allowed to stay open-people have to shut up and heal up. She's in trouble because the film works to a plan that makes trauma speak itself out, speak itself to excess until it dies; this film at the peak of its slyness, when people sweat and lick their lips excessively and pound their chests and grab their hair and twist their heads from side to side, performing this unspeakable torment.
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And without further argument he unsheathed the sword and cleaved Miss Foxe's head from her neck. He knew what was supposed to happen. He knew that this awkward, whispering creature before him should now transform into a princess - dazzlingly beautiful, free, and made wise by her hardship. That is not what happened.
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And I think I decided not to love Charlie because I thought I had to be rescued. For practical reasons but also as a proof of love. It's better that Charlie and I didn't make an automatic transaction, love exchanged for rescue. All you can do after that is put the love and the rescue up on the shelf, moving them farther and farther back as you make room for all the other items you acquire over the years. This way a ragged stem still grows between us, almost pretty. Though really we should crush it now, before the buds bloom skeletal.
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Please tell me a story about a girl who gets away." I would, even if I had to adapt one, even if I had to make one up just for her. "Gets away from what, though?" "From her fairy godmother. From the happy ending that isn't really happy at all. Please have her get out and run off of the page altogether, to somewhere secret where words like 'happy' and 'good' will never find her." "You don't want her to be happy and good?" "I'm not sure what's really meant by happy and good. I would like her to be free. Now. Please begin.
Mostly, when Jess didn't want to talk about her ideas in class, Colleen thought that Jess was showing off, making sure that she would be coaxed and pleaded with, but how could Jess have explained in a coherent way that she was scared? Once you let people know anything about what you think, that's it, you're dead. Then they'll be jumping about in your mind, taking things out, holding them up to the light and killing them, yes, killing them, because thoughts are supposed to stay and grow in quiet, dark places, like butterflies in cocoons.
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It was snowing when I got off the bus at Flax Hill. Not quite regular snowfall, not exactly a blizzard. This is how it was: The snow came down heavily, settled for about a minute, then the wind moved it - more rolled it, really - onto another target. One minute you were covered in snow, then it sped off sideways, as if a brisk, invisible giant had taken pity and brushed you down.
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I think her favorite thing about our... collaboration was her actor and musician friends rubbing shoulders with my academic colleagues, she liked the atmosphere of challenge, the way anything that came under discussion could be claimed or rejected by either side. Time and time again the power of an idea or a piece of art was assessed by either its beauty or its technique or its usefulness, and time and time again my wife was surprised by how rarely anything on earth satisfies all three camps.
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All through dinner Arturo and I held hands under the table like a couple of kids, and that made the dinner quite wonderful, even though Mrs. Fletcher kept staring at Olivia as though committing her to memory. It got so bad that Olivia turned to her husband and said: "Has it happened at last, Gerald? Have I become a curiosity?
Finally, he smiled, and although his smile was bumpy because some of his teeth were jagged and broken, it was a warming, infectious smile that was reflected in his eyes. It made her smile widely in return. She felt as if the room had been lit up. He held out his arms, and she went across the room to him, almost running. She buried her face in his shirt, her nose wrinkling up as the scent of his cologne mixed with the nutty, sourish smell of camphor that filled the room. He put his arms around her, but gently, so that there was space between his forearms and her back, holding her as if she was to fragile to hug properly. Awkwardly, he patted her light, bushy aureole of dark brown hair, repeating: "Good girl. Fine daughter.
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So she quit working to make sense of things- we don't realise it, but it's hard work we do almost every waking moment, building out thoughts and memories and actions around time, things that happened yesterday, and things that are happening right now, and what's coming tomorrow, layering all of that simultaneously and holding it in balance.
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Aside from infrequent comments ("Cheer up, love, " or "It's not Hallo'ween"), no one wondered why a teenager was dressed up as a chic governess. Sylvie approved of Miri, even at the same time as she was confused by her. "It's a style at least, " she said, and took off her rope of pearls and looped them around Miri's neck.
I see all mythology as one tradition, a way of disseminating knowledge that must come to us in code so that we can live sanely with it, since some forms of knowledge are too dark, or too complex, to be plainly spoken. And so we have these weird (and also sometimes entertaining and surprising and heartening) tales that belong to all of us.
The girl was lighter without her heart. She danced barefoot on the hot roads, and her feet were not cut by the glass or stones that studded her way. She spoke to the dead whenever they visited her. She tried to be kind, but they realised that they no longer had anything in common with her, and she realised it, too. So they went their separate ways.
Like every girl, I only need to look up and a little to the right of me to see the hysteria that belongs to me, the one that hangs om a hook like an empty jacket and flutters with disappointment that I cannot wear her all the time. I call her my hysteric, and this personal hysteric of mine is designer made (though I'm not sure who made her), flattering and comfortable, attractive even, if you're around people who like that sort of thing. She is not anyone, my hysteric; she is blank, electricity dancing around a filament, singing to kill.
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Once you let people know anything about what you think, that's it, you're dead. Then they'll be jumping about in your mind, taking things out, holding them up to the light and killing them, yes, killing them, because thoughts are supposed to stay and grow in quiet, dark places, like butterflies in cocoons.
I do love Shirley Jackson, but I don't deserve to be named in connection with her. I remember reading 'The Haunting of Hill House' and having goosebumps for hours. The way she builds narrative pressure in that book is just amazing. I think you could reread it a few times and actually go out of your mind.
I think I started writing about identity, and I used to believe that identity is the story. But now I'm not so much subscribed to that. I mean, with 'Mr. Fox,' it has a feminist agenda as well. And so, as I sort of been away from writing about identity, I still feel that kind of tug of roots and, you know, cultural background.
I sometimes get asked: 'How come the men in your stories don't have such strong characters?' And I'm like: 'I don't care.' I just want to find out about all the different lives a woman can live. But my feminism has never been against men. It's not erasure; it's just they're not the focus. In real life, they're quite nice.
A few people have tried to make me see that my writing isn't quite their thing by saying to me: 'What about realism?' To which my general response is, 'What about it?' However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of my favorite writers, Marilynne Robinson, was to say something similar if asked 'What about the fantastic?'
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I'm greedy about cities - I like to form my impressions of them on my own, and on foot as far as possible, looking and listening, having conversations with bridges and streets and riverbanks, conversations I tend not to be aware of until a little later, when I find myself returning to those places to say hello again, even if only in memory.