That Thing With Feathers

My garden today:


I’ve been reading both Lydia Davis and Alice Munro this week.  I love the fact that both these women are fiction writers of the highest order, and that their work could hardly be more different, and that (I am guessing) they would each find much to love in the other’s writing. Munro’s stories–it’s “Friend of My Youth” I’m re-reading–are rarely less than 20 pages, and  often span decades.  A Davis story can read, in its entirety: “Under all this dirt/ the floor is really very clean.”   Munro might use that as  a note to be expanded into a full, complex character; Davis leaves us to do it ourselves.  Crazy sharp observers, both have been effecting the way I look at the world this week.

One thing I think they have in common, and that I love, is a refusal to pin things down, or to insist on the final word. In one Munro story, a character enjoys the reflections of reflections in a window; she is grateful for an “accidental clarity”.  In the masterpiece that is “Menesteung”, her character Meda, a “poetess”, has a flight of fancy, but, “She doesn’t mistake that for reality, and neither does she mistake anything else for reality, and that is how she knows that she is sane.”  It’s the struggle to have that continual openness to other ways of seeing that makes a writer’s life both strange and rich.

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