story: “The Blue Tree”
author: Rick Bass
where: sofa and sleepy
note: This story encapsulates the impermanence of things, things like youth, places, and moments, but also–the pleasure of reading a short story. I’m reading and rereading Rick Bass this week while pondering the destruction of Joshua Tree National Park and other parks throughout the US, caused by human hubris and malice.
a line: “He savors it, knowing it won’t always be this way. But it is now. More so than he could ever have imagined.”
story: Love Machine
author: Samantha Hunt
where: home physically, but mentally with The Man Who Fell to Earth
note: George Saunders, Ovid, and Dostoevsky would have a party in this story
a line: “’Machines,’ he continues, ‘have one of only two choices. Either they are run by humans or else they run themselves. And the way I see it, either choice is no good for me.’”
story: A Simple Heart
author: Gustave Flaubert
where: home, golden chaise
note: It is fun to read this the same week as reading Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier and revisiting The Communist Manifesto for work.
a line: “It was a bull, which had been hidden by the fog. He came towards the two women. Madame Aubain was going to run.”
story: Cecilia Awakened
author: Tessa Hadley
where: il mio ufficio
a line: “Her mother, Cecilia’s grandmother, who was elegant and drank and had lovers, had remonstrated when Angela was younger: if only she’d move more gracefully, less jerkily, if only she’d try contact lenses and wear dresses instead of shirts and slacks. Angela had advanced unhappily toward middle age, when such pressures would surely come to an end. And then before she was forty, when she was on her third book—her second had been a minor hit—and just around the time that she met Ken, her mother died, and so never knew that her awkward daughter had succeeded in hooking a man after all. Weeping angry tears, Angela allowed herself this bitterness when the funeral was over, mocking herself and her mother—but only when she was alone, in her most private thoughts.”
story: Three Days
author: Samantha Hunt
note: still waiting for The Seas
a line: “Beatrice’s mother still works for Mythologic and now she firmly believes that all concepts are better communicated through specious retellings of ancient myths. Most of the time, Beatrice can’t see the connections.”
story: Animal Bite
author: Mary Miller
where: home sweet home
note: Big World is a tiny book; I’m not sure why, but I like it.
a line: “It was misleading, the idea that lack of pain equated happiness.”
story: Why Were They Throwing Bricks?
author: Jenny Zhang
where: the gold sofa
note: I bought this book on a whim after stumbling upon the author reading at Shakespeare and Company in Paris this July.
a line: “I was old enough to understand how one of trauma’s many possible effects was to make the traumatized person insufferable, how my grandmother’s unwillingness to be a victim was both pathetic and impressive and made her deserving of at least some compassion, but fuck, why did she have to be so greedy for it?”