I hold the biscuits in front of his face and he stands up. "What do I have to do?" he says. "Nothing, " I say. "They're for you." "Are they poisoned?" he says. "No, " I say. "Eat one, " he says. So I do. "Probably the others are poisoned, " he says. "Eat a fraction of each." I eat a corner off each biscuit. He looks at the reminders suspiciously, then sniffs them. "I'm not sure it's worth it, " he says. "How I wish you'd never come. Perhaps you've left the poison off of just those corners." I begin to realize I'll doubt whatever information he gives me. "Lick the entire biscuit, " he says. "Then give them to me." So I lick each biscuit. "Both sides, " he says. I lick both sides of each biscuit. I give him the wet biscuits and he cracks them open and sniffs them. Then he puts them in his pocket. "What do you want?" he says. "Now that you've failed to poison me to death.
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APAGeorge Saunders Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=i-hold-biscuits-in-front-his-face-he-stands-up-what-do-i-have-to-do-he-says-nothing-i-say-theyre-for-you-are-they-poisoned-he-says-no-i-say-eat-one-he-says-so-i-do-probably-other
ChicagoGeorge Saunders Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2019. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=i-hold-biscuits-in-front-his-face-he-stands-up-what-do-i-have-to-do-he-says-nothing-i-say-theyre-for-you-are-they-poisoned-he-says-no-i-say-eat-one-he-says-so-i-do-probably-other, accessed .
MLA"George Saunders Quotes." Jar of Quotes, 2019. . https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=i-hold-biscuits-in-front-his-face-he-stands-up-what-do-i-have-to-do-he-says-nothing-i-say-theyre-for-you-are-they-poisoned-he-says-no-i-say-eat-one-he-says-so-i-do-probably-other
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In art, and maybe just in general, the idea is to be able to be really comfortable with contradictory ideas. In other words, wisdom might be, seem to be, two contradictory ideas both expressed at their highest level and just let to sit in the same cage sort of, vibrating. So, I think as a writer, I'm really never sure of what I really believe.
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On a more technical level, a story takes a lot of words. And to generate words and phrases and images and so on, that will compel the reader to continue reading - that stand a chance of really grabbing a reader - the writer has to work out of a place of, let's say, familiarity and affection. The matrix of the story has to be made out of stuff the writer really knows about and likes. The writer can't be stretching and (purely) inventing all the time. Well, I can't, anyway.
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Still, accomplishment is unreliable. "Succeeding," whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there's the very real danger that "succeeding" will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.
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I haven't written a novel or something that long, because I really am improvising all along and the story is growing new limbs to do what it needs to do. So there's very little planning. There's a little planning where I say, "Well, it looks like I'm going in this direction, ok, good." But there's very little forethought or intellectual justification: "Oh, look, I'm putting in a theme park because that represents dystopian America!"
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Intelligent, heartfelt stories that tell a whole new set of truths about growing up American. Julie Orringer writes with virtuosity and depth about the fears, cruelties, and humiliations of childhood, but then does that rarest, and more difficult, thing: writes equally beautifully about the moments of victory and transcendence.
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Vonnegut's war was necessary. And yet it was massacre and screaming and confusion and blood and death. It was the mammoth projection outward of the confused inner life of men. In war, the sad tidy constructs we make to help us believe life is orderly and controllable are roughly thrown aside like the delusions they are. In war, love is outed as an insane, insupportable emotion, a kind of luxury emotion, because everywhere you look, someone beloved to someone is being slaughtered, by someone whose own beloved has been slaughtered, or will be, or could be.
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From the perspective of someone with two grown and wonderful kids, that your instincts as parents are correct: a minute spent reading to your kids now will repay itself a million-fold later, not only because they love you for reading to them, but also because, years later, when they're gone and miles away, those quiet evenings, when you were tucked in with them, everything quiet but the sound of the page-turns, will, seem to you, I promise...... sacred.
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What good the prophet in the wilderness may do is incremental and personal. It's good for us to hear someone speak the irrational truth. It's good for us when, in spite of all of the sober, pragmatic, and even correct arguments that war is sometimes necessary someone says: war is large-scale murder, us at our worst, the stupidest guy doing the cruelest thing to the weakest being.
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