She realized that being starved for words was the same as being starved for food, because both left a hollow place inside you, a place you needed filled to make it through another day. Rachel remembered how growing up she'd thought living on a farm with just a father was as lonely as you could be. (130)
What about you, Snipes?" Dunbar asked. "You think there to be mountain lions up here or is it just folks' imaginings?" Snipes pondered the question a few moments before speaking. They's many a man of science would claim there aint because you got no irredeemable evidence like panther scat or fur or tooth or tail. In other words, some part of the animal in questions. Or better yet having the actual critter itself, the whole think kit and caboodle head to tail, which all your men of science argue is the best proof of all a thing exists, whether it be a panther, or a bird, or even a dinosaur." To put it another way, if you was to stub your toe and tell the man of science what happened he'd not believe a word of it less he could see how it'd stoved up or was bleeding. But your philosophers and theologians and such say there's things in the world that's every bit as real even though you can't see them.' Like what?' Dunbar asked. Well,' Snipes said. 'They's love, that's one. And courage. You can't see neither of them, but they're real. And air, of course. That's one of your most important examples. You wouldn't be alive a minute if there wasn't air, but nobody's ever seen a single speck of it.' ... 'All I'm saying is there is a lot more to this old world than meets the eye.' ... 'And darkness. You can't see it no more than you can see air, but when its all around you sure enough know it.' (Serena, 65-66)
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Having shot down a number, some of which were anly wounded, the whole flock swept repeatedly around their prostrate companions, and again settled on a low tree, within twenty yards of the spot where I stood. At each successive discharge, though showers of them fell, yet the affection of the survivors seemed rather to increase; for after a few circuits around the place, they again alighted near me.
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Then one morning she'd begun to feel her sorrow easing, like something jagged that had cut into her so long it had finally dulled its edges, worn itself down. That same day Rachel couldn't remember which side her father had parted his hair on, and she'd realized again what she'd learned at five when her mother left - that what made losing someone you loved bearable was not remembering but forgetting. Forgetting the small things first, the smell of the soap her mother had bathed with, the color of the dress she'd worn to church, then after a while the sound of her mother's voice, the color of her hair. It amazed Rachel how much you could forget, and everything you forgot made that person less alive inside you until you could finally endure it. After more time passed you could let yourself remember, even want to remember. But even then what you felt those first days could return and remind you the grief that was still there, like old barbed wire embedded in a tree's heartwood. (51)
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What made losing someone you loved bearable was not remembering but forgetting. Forgetting small things first... it's amazing how much you could forget, and everything you forgot made that person less alive inside you until you could finally endure it. After more time passed you could let yourself remember, even want to remember. But even then what you felt those first days could return and remind you the grief was still there, like old barbed wire embedded in a tree's heartwood.
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I don't even have a choice. Rachel thought how that was pretty much true of everything now, that you got one choice at the beginning but if you didn't choose right, and she hadn't, things got narrow real quick. Like trying to wade a river, she thought. You take a wrong step and set your foot on a wobbly rock or in a drop-off and you're swept away, and all you can do then is try to survive. (83)
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John Lane has long been recognized as one of the South's finest poets and memoirists. This debut establishes him as one of our finest novelists as well. His poet's eye for detail seamlessly merges with a born storyteller's gift for narrative. Fate Moreland's Widow gives voice to those who endured one of the most painful and neglected chapters in American history.
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Like Flannery O'Connor, McCorkle's genius is to give us both philosophical speculation and a riveting narrative filled with unforgettable characters. Great writing, poignancy, humor, wisdom-all are in abundance here. Jill McCorkle is one of the South's greatest writers; she is also one of America's.
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On the last drafts, I focus on the words themselves, including the rub of vowels and consonants, stressed and unstressed syllables. Yet even at this stage I'm often surprised. A different ending or a new character shows up and I'm back to where I began, letting the story happen, just trying to stay out of the way.