It occurred to her then that life was conical in shape, the past broadening beyond the sharp point of the lived moment. The more life you had, the more the base expanded, so that the wounds and treasons that were nearly imperceptible when they happened stretched like tiny dots on a balloon slowly blown up. A speck on the slender child grows into a gross deformity in the adult, inescapable, ragged at the edges.
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And this was what we felt: vertigo, an icicle through our strong hearts, our long-lost childhoods. Sunshine in a field and crickets and the sweet tealeaf stink of a new ball mitt and a rock glinting with mica and a chaw of bubblegum wrapping its sweet tendrils down our throats and the warm breeze up our shorts and the low vibrato of lake loons and the sun and the sun and the warm sun and this is what we felt; the sun.
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Even still, we run. We have not reached our average of 57.92 years without knowing that you run through it, and it hurts and you run through it some more, and if it hurts worse, you run through it even more, and when you finish, you will have broken through. In the end, when you are done, and stretching, and your heartbeat slows, and your sweat dries, if you've run through the hard part, you will remember no pain.
The stories themselves aren't what moves him now... What moves him are the shadowy people behind the stories, the workers weary from their days, gathering at night in front of a comforting bit of fire... The world then was no less terrifying than it is now, with our nightmares of bombs and disease and technological warfare. Anything held the ability to set of fear... a nail dropped in a the hay, wolves circling at the edge of the woods...
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But my best friend from college was silent for a long time. She, of all of my friends, had seen the parade of sad wrecks through my life, date after bad date after bad boyfriend. She was the one who'd picked up the pieces after the musician, the investment banker, the humanitarian who was human to everyone but me. When at last she spoke, she said, Oh, hell. And, after that: Hallelujah.
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She returned to him, pressed his cheeks in her hands. "My eccentric old man, thinking you could fly." "This time, only my words will fly, " he said solemnly. They both cracked up. Almost twenty years together and if blazing heat had turned to warmth, humor, it was less wild but easier to sustain.
we need a mass of ancestors at our backs as ballast. Sometimes, we feel it's impossible to push into the future without such a weight behind us, without such heaviness to keep us steady, even if it is imaginary. And the more frightening the future is, the more complicated it seems to be, the more we steady ourselves with the past.
It was somehow clear, even then, that the monster had been lonely. The folds above its eye made the old face look wistful, and it emanated such a strong sense of solitude that each human standing in the park that day felt miles from the others, though we were shoulder-to-shoulder, touching.
She would always feel this wild girl was the truest of any of the people she had already been: adored daughter, bourgeois priss, rebel, runaway, dope-fiend San Francisco hippie; or all the people she would later be: mother, nurse, religious fanatic, prematurely old woman. Vivienne was a human onion, and when I came home at twenty eight years old on the day the monster died, I was afraid that the Baptist freak she had peeled down to was her true, acrid, tear-inducing core.
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And she, the new mother of a daughter, felt a fierceness come over her that seized at her heart, that made her feel as if her bones were turned to steel, as if she could turn herself into a weapon to keep this daughter of hers from having to be hurt by the world outside the ring of her arms.
The novella is at once the most elegant and demanding form: a writer must balance the looseness of a novel with the concision of a short story, a feat that only the bravest and most talented of us can manage. In Brazil, Jesse Lee Kercheval proves, yet again, that she is exactly the right writer for the job. A wild American picaresque, Brazil snaps along briskly, yet feels full-fleshed, and brims with a sly wit and grace.
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If the literary category of 'mordant fable' exists at all, it may be because Brock Clarke invented it. The Happiest People in the World is everything we fans have come to love from a Clarke novel: playful and deliriously skewed, and somehow balancing between genuinely great-hearted and gloriously weird.
At some point, I picked up an old library copy of 'To The Lighthouse' someone had bought for 25 cents. I began to read and didn't stop until the sun had blistered my back. A mysterious rightness, a beautiful submerged truth had invaded me, one that has ever since seemed slightly beyond my grasp.
If there's a black cat that crosses the street in my path, I will turn around and walk 20 minutes out of my way to not cross it. You know how in New York there's a lot of scaffolding? I won't walk under scaffolding or under ladders. I wear things like a baseball player wears things that are supposed to have luck.
I once spent an entire night in a hotel in New York looking across the way into someone's apartment where nothing was happening but daily life, a phone call, television watching, staring into the fridge. Seeing how those strangers lived over that small distance and in absolute silence moved me deeply.
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