American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
I've given guys blow jobs just because I've run out of things to talk about.' Oh, Rae. Who hasn't
Let?s think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world?Try walking around with a child who?s going, ?Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!? And the child points, and you look, and you see, and you start going, ?Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!? I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world ? present and in awe.
Look, if you don't have a bad attitude and lots of things wrong with you, no serious person is going to be interested. If you feel scared, outraged, confused most of the time, come on over. Have a seat.
Most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you.
My son, Sam, at three and a half, had these keys to a set of plastic handcuffs, and one morning he intentionally locked himself out of the house. I was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper when I heard him stick his plastic keys into the doorknob and try to open the door. Then I heard him say, Oh, shit. My whole face widened, like the guy in Edvard Munch's Scream. After a moment I got up and opened the front door.
Now, if you ask me, what?s going on is that we?re all up to here in it, and probably the most important thing is that we not yell at one another.
One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, It?s not like you don?t have a choice, because you do?you can either type or kill yourself.
Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground - you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it's going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.
Remember the scene in Cat Ballou where a very drunk Lee Marvin goes from unconscious to ranting to triumphant to roaring to weeping defeat, and then finally passes out? One of the men watching him says, with real awe, I never seen a man get through a day so fast. Don?t let this be you.
She felt as if the mosaic she had been assembling out of life's little shards got dumped to the ground, and there was no way to put it back together.
So why today is it absolutely all I can do to extend mercy to myself for wanting to nip an annoying relative?s heel like a river rat? Forget extending mercy to this relative, who has so messed with me and my son ? she doesn?t even know she needs my mercy. She thinks she is fierce and superior, while I believe she secretly ate her first child. Horribly, she is perfectly fine. I?m the one who needs mercy ? my mercy. The need for this, for my own motley mercy, underpinned most of my lifelong agitation, my separation from life itself.
Take care of yourselves; take care of one another.
The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity. The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. It?s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. It?s a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses. It?s about winning; about providing society with superior things; and about proving that you have taste, and good values, and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is. Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph. And then everything dies anyway, right? But you just keep doing it.
The society to which we belong seems to be dying or is already dead. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but clearly the dark side is rising. Things could not have been more odd and frightening in the Middle Ages. But the tradition of artists will continue no matter what form the society takes. And this is another reason to write: people need us, to mirror for them and for each other without distortion-not to look around and say, 'Look at yourselves, you idiots!,' but to say, 'This is who we are.
There are a lot of us, some published, some not, who think the literary life is the loveliest one possible, this life of reading and writing and corresponding. We think this life is nearly ideal.
There's a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, Why on our hearts, and not in them? The rabbi answered, Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.
This is a hard planet, and we?re a vulnerable species. And all I can do is pray: Help. When
To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass - seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.
Various people at her church kept saying that she could be happy because she was going home to be with Jesus. This is the sort of thing that gives Christians a bad name. This, and the Inquisition. Sue wanted to open fire on them all. I think I encouraged this.
We said that we believed that the truth would set us free, and the truth was that the Sunday-school staff was burned out, that there were almost no people of color, and that if we didn't get more help, we'd have to close down.
What can we say beyond Wow, in the presence of glorious art, in music so magnificent that it can't have originated solely on this side of things? Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath.
When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.
When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.
Will call him a she when the pee-pee is gone. Says Brave is to endure stares, jeers, prejudice. He won't.
Writing involves seeing people suffer and, as Robert Stone once put it, finding some meaning therein.