story: “The Leopard”
author: Anthony Marra
where: A bed on the 33rd floor.
note: There’s a description near the end where the narrator, Roman, considers all the folks responsible for erasing people, and it makes me think of the book Ordinary Men.
a line: “It takes nothing less than the whole might of the state to erase a person, but only the error of one individual–if that is what memory is now called–to preserve her.”
theme(s): Censorship, war, siblings,
author: Leah Hampton
note: I love how Alison and the sow are both survivors (somewhat).
a line: “Hogs are just flesh, and they had indeed cooked, alive in the fire, through the night. As they approached, the scent of smoke and carnage made a wall Alison could almost lean into.”
theme(s): Modern farming, education, food industry
story: “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
author: Flannery O’Connor
where: Sum of Us
note: I read this story real slow today, drinking lemon ice tea. Maybe the slowest I ever read it, and in this slowness, it felt more violent than ever.
a line: “Behind them the line of woods gaped like a dark open mouth.”
theme(s): Survival, murder, the South, grace
author: Alice Munro
where: post-Flywheel, Social House (terrible breakfast)
note: “I have never kept diaries. I just remember a lot and am more self-centered than most people,” from an interview with Alice Munro about the book. This story went in places I did not expect it to go.
a line: “She had caught the terrible flu of 1918 in which so many people died, and when she came out of it she was strange. Not really mute, because she could make words, but had lost many of them.”
theme(s): Post-WWII, trains, small towns, country vs. city, running away
story: “To Reach Japan”
author: Alice Munro
where: Starbucks, Festival City
note: I picked up this book for only 39 dirhams–Dear Life–and the writing is so good, so much denser than what I’ve been reading, books by younger contemporary female writers, mostly. Her style (as well as the font) reminds me of the Maeve Binchy books of my childhood.
a line: “In the decade that they had already entered but that she at least had not taken much notice of, there was going to be a lot of attention paid to this sort of thing. Being there was to mean something it didn’t use to mean.”
theme(s): Adultery, feminism, marriage, writing life, mothers and daughters, trains