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December fragments #22

Beautiful decay…

the piano announces itself

against clouding and unclouding skies

rain darkens it    sun bleaches it

wind ploughs the lupins    the piano sways

eases its joints—moans    settles its pedals deeper

under grass and earth …

—Ross Bolleter, ‘On Piano Hill’, Piano Hill

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December fragments #21

Proof, evidence, witness…

Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we’re still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants. We put on display our framed photographs, our parchment diplomas, our silver-plated cups; we monogram our linen, we carve our names on trees, we scrawl them on washroom walls. It’s all the same impulse. What do we hope from it? Applause, envy, respect? Or simply attention, of any kind we can get?

At the very least we want a witness. We can’t stand the idea of our own voices falling silent finally, like a radio running down.

—Margaret Atwood, The Blind  Assassin

Margaret Atwood will be a guest of the 2013 Perth Writers Festival in February.

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December fragments #20

The light is not always benign…

A stray fact: insects are not drawn to candle flames, they are drawn to the light on the far side of the flame, they go into the flame and sizzle to nothingness because they’re so eager to get to the light on the other side.

—Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall

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December fragments #19

From one of my favourite books on the craft of writing…

Mastery [of the art of writing] is not something that strikes in an instant, like a thunderbolt, but a gathering power that moves steadily through time, like weather.

—John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

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December fragments #18

What happens to our past when we can no longer remember?

What an amazing, complicated, unpredictable, enduring and fragile thing is memory. It is like a river. It can silt up and need dredging, it can flood and destroy, it can lose its way. It is like a river of moonlight, evanescent. When it goes dark, navigation is treacherous.

—Janette Turner Hospital, ‘Moon River’, Forecast: Turbulence

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December fragments #17

… life would be terrible … without death to give it gravitas and shape.

—Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Good Squad

But it’s a shape that Western society generally prefers not to acknowledge.

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December fragments #16

Once you begin looking, you see punctuation everywhere…

One night they fell asleep, side by side, on Maud’s bed, where they had been sharing a glass of Calvados. He slept curled against her back, a dark comma against her pale elegant phrase.

—A. S. Byatt, Possession

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