Saturday, January 24, 2009

Truth in writing

There are some things I read that just ooze with humanity. Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri, had believable characters in situations that didn't seem contrived and yet were still interesting.  Different. The Art of Racing in the Rain was narrated by a dog; yet this dog seemed more real, more authentic, than most characters I see on tv or in movies.

A number of things stood out to me in the President's inaugural address, but I especially appreciated this passage (emphasis mine):
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.
Fiction allows us to explore a truth in so many different ways.  Grief, joy, passion, anxiety, courage, and loyalty can be treated with the subtlety and complexity these truths deserve.  

I'm just dancing around my own explorations.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bombarded by noise

In the most recent edition of "Best American Short Stories," edited by Salman Rushdie, there was a story in which a town - not unlike New York City - became silent for a year. It came on gradually, with only 2- or 3- minute interruptions of absolute quiet, but soon the periods were longer. Citizens grew to love the silence, missing it so much when it disappears that they decided to make the whole city a noiseless bubble. With the quiet, people had more ideas. 

But eventually, a sound pierces the bubble. After so much quiet, the people are excited by the momentary chaos. The interruptions of noise happen again and again for longer and longer, and the people decide to get rid of the silence and go back to how things were.

It's really a nice piece that stands out from the others in the collection. "The Year of Silence," it's called, by Kevin Brockmeier.


I was thinking about the task we all have of living in this world. Everyone just going about it. Their lives, I mean. They get up, go to work or school, or stay home with kids, they come home, they call people, they make plans, they clean their house, they do their dishes, put away clothes, pay bills, draw, write, create.  

All that amazes me; clearly, I'm easily impressed.