Quote of the day:  “The events in our lives happen in a sequence of time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable no necessarily–perhaps not possibly–chronological.  The time as we know it subjectivelly is often the chronology that stories and novels follow:  it is the continuous thread of revelation.”

Classic.

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I didn’t actually read anything today.  I’m in San Francisco.  I did, however, see a Eudora Welty postcard at City Lights Bookstore and felt a nicely warmed by that little piece of home.

Quote of  the day:  “When I did begin to write, the short story was a shape that had already formed intself and stood waiting in the back of my mind.”

This follows a passage in One Writer’s Beginnings about family trips, about how they were stories in themselves.

My Welty quote of the day:  “To me it was a sound of unspeakable loneliness that I did not know how to run away from.  I was there in its company, watching the moonflower open.”

This follows a section in which she describes listening to music but not talking much at her grandfathers house along with her own efforts to imagine what it was like for her father to grow up like that.

In the next scene of  “Moon Lake,” the competition between the town kids and the orphans continues with a little gambling.  Good stuff all the way around, but my favorite line comes with Easter’s reaction to being taunted by Jinny Love:  “Victory with a remark attached did not crush Easter at all.”  I love it.

Swimming lessons are the focal point of the opening scene of “Moon Lake,” the lessons and the cruel tension between town kids and orphans.  Mrs. Gruenwald, the swimming instructor, is every bit as fascinating as the children.  And, as always, Welty has an incredible sense of closure.  The scene ends with this:  “Mrs. Gruenwald, who capered before breakfast, believed in evolution, and put her face in the water, was quarter of a mile out.  If she said anything, they couldn’t hear her for the frogs.”

Beautiful.  The “before breakfast” part makes me think of the line in Through the Looking Glass about believing impossible things before breakfast.  This is wonderful language to depict the child’s view.  And the frogs.  Oh yeah, the frogs.

I’m going to feed the blog only a tiny morsel today, once more on the grounds of having been incredibly busy.

Here’s a quote from One Writer’s Beginnings:  “The smell of all those rows of bread and the row of pies didn’t easily go away either.  And in the parlor where the blinds were drawn, the smell of being unvisited would pervade, pervade, pervade.”

This is quite possibly the best description of a “company room” I’ve ever read.

King MacLain is back in this story and as larger than life in his nefarious ways as ever. Mattie Will, aka Mrs. Junior Holifield, encounters him in the woods in a scene that sounds an awful lot like rape with a halfway willing victim. She at least didn’t fight it, for whatever reason. Juxtaposed against tale is Mattie’s memory of rolling in the grass with King’s twin sons as a girl. Tales of innocence and experience it would seem in a manner that would do William Blake proud.

This story needed more attention than I had to give it.  Nearly 80 pages long, it is told from two different points of view and spans a time period of several years.  If you read a few pages here and there, as I did, it’s easy to lose track of characters and shifts into flashbacks.  But that’s okay.  I’m glad I read every word of it.  I’m just looking forward to a time when I can read it all in a sitting with more time to devote.

 

Parts of the story center around a piano recital in the past, and parts of the story center around a fire, or would be house fire, in the present, the present being the 1920s or so.  We see the events filtered through the eyes of Cassie and her brother Loch.  They mostly have to do with the piano teacher, Miss Eckhart, and the best piano student in town, Virgie Rianey.  Cassie has a long history of following behind Virgie in piano lessons, but by the time they are teenagers, Miss Eckhart has deemed insane, and Virgie is sneaking into abandoned houses with a sailor.

 

In the end, Cassie thinks this:

 

What she was certain of was the distance those two had gone, as if all along they had been making a trip (which the sailor was only starting).  It had changed them.  They were deliberately terrible.  They looked at each other and neither wished to speak.  They did not even horrify each other.  No one could touch them now either.

 

Danke schoen…That much was out in the open.  Gratitude—like rescue—was simply no more.  It was not only past; it was outworn and cast away.  Both Miss Eckhart and Virgie Rainey were human beings terribly at large, roaming on the face of the earth.  And there were others of them—human beings, roaming like lost beasts.

 

Who cares if this makes Cassie judgmental or small minded?  This is powerful writing.  This will make the spine tingle.  The story could be twice this length and contain only this passage worth reading and still be considered great.

Tough day for blogging.  I had to turn in midterms, so I stayed late at work.  I have a poetry reading this evening.  No rest for the weary.  No time for the blog.  I have completely neglected my friend Eudora.

 

This might be a good place to ask myself, “Is it worth it?”  What’s the point of daily blogging if there are days when I have neither time nor energy to devote to it?

 

I have to answer, “Yes.”  It is worth it.  The daily part I think is necessary even.  Without it, the days I lacked the time would slip into weeks and even months.  It would be like the day I was too busy to go to the gym two years ago.  They haven’t seen much of me since.

 

I’m getting so much from Welty.  I’m still thinking about the quote from a couple of days ago in which Cassie in “June Recital” thought about how lacking the words to describe something made it harder to believe or to convince others to believe. 

 

My brother and I talked about this today in a whole other context.  Lacking the words does make it impossible to think the thought sometimes.  Lacking the vocabulary makes it impossible to learn a new concept.  And lacking the words in a language altogether?  That means you have to be a linguist first in order to be a scientist.  You have to make a language capable of containing your thoughts.  So the physicist needs poetry even more than the poet needs physics.

 

And that is all I have to say today.

November 2018
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