Sunday, September 26, 2010

Everything we did started with love, and ended with lust--

"Right after Cleveland and the ivy we made all the kids memorize poetry again. We hadn't memorized ay growing up--this was the seventies and eighties, and people hadn't taught that for years-- and we really found we missed it. The girls were fine with the idea, and the boys caught on when they realized it would help them get older women into bed. Around that time we banned wearing fur outside of arctic regions, flooded the market with diamonds and gold and silver to the point where non had any value, fixed the ozone hole--I could show you that; we've got it on video--and then we did the thing with the llamas. What are you doing? Sour cream in the salsa? No, no. That's just wrong, sweetie. My god.

So yeah, we put llamas everywhere. That was us. We just liked looking at them, so we bred about six million and spread them around. They weren't there before, honey. No, they weren't. Oh man, there's one now, in the backyard. Isn't it a handsome thing? Now they're as common as squirrels or deer, and you have your mom and pop to thank for that."

-- excerpt from Dave Eggers' short story, "Your Mother and I"

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Whether or not beautiful is good, beauty seems to bring out goodness in others.  In one psychologist's study, seventy-five college men were shown photographs of women, some of whom were very attractive and others less so.  They were asked to select the person they would be most likely do the following for: help her move furniture, loan money, donate blood, donate a kidney, swim one mile to rescue her, save her from a burning building, and even jump on a terrorist hand grenade.  The men were most likely to volunteer for any of these altruistic and risky acts for a beautiful woman.  The only thing they seemed reluctant to do for her was loan her money."

from Survival of the Prettiest by Nancy Etcoff

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Site of Memory

I have always thought that as an editor for twenty years I understood writers better than their most careful critics, because in examining the manuscript in each of its subsequent stages I knew the author's process, how his or her mind worked, what was effortless, what took time, where the "solution" to the problem came from. The end result-the book-was all that the critic had to go on.
Still, for me, that was the least important aspect of the work. Because, no matter how "fictional" the account of these writers, or how much it was a product of invention, the act of imagination is bound up with memory. You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. "Floods" is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory-what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our "flooding."

-excerpt from Site of Memory, Toni Morrison

Monday, September 6, 2010

This is a story, I suppose, about a failure in intelligence: the Rawlings' marriage was grounded in intelligence.

"So here was this couple, testing their marriage, looking after it, treating it like a small boat full of helpless people in a very stormy sea. Well, of course, so it was... The storms of the world were bad, but not too close--which is not to say they were selfishly felt: Susan and Matthew were both well- informed and responsible people. And the inner storms and quicksands were understood and charted. So everything was all right. Everything was in order. Yes, things were under control."

--excerpt from Doris Lessing's "To Room Nineteen"