Story by way of indirection

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It was from "Spire" that we read yesterday, Lia Purpura's four-page essay in On Looking.  We had been speaking about the ways that stories can and do get told.  We had listened to pages from Jill Bialosky's History of a Suicide and I'd been tempted to carry in Kathleen Finneran's The Tender Land when, at the last moment, I shuffled Lia's book into my bag.  Like Bialosky and Finneran, Purpura writes of suicide in "Spire," but Purpura works by way of indirection, leading us toward feeling not with biographical detail, not with the facts, per se, but with an astonishing series of images.  Here is the story's final paragraph:
Once while I was working I looked up and saw a woman digging her window box out with a fork.  It was cold.  Late November.  She dug and pulled the dry stalks up, shook the roots and put the old flower heads into a little basket. Then she hit a tough spot—it must have been frozen—and had to dig hard.  The fork caught the plant's root and flipped it in air.  She watched it go down.  Put her hands on the rail and watched as it fell.  Then she stopped altogether.  Left the fork in.  Left the window box like that, half-finished, all winter.


Hee Chang said...

I'm not familiar with the work, but I think it's really interesting how images trigger the mind. People's memory seems to have a tendency to remember important images in an instant and that will really enable many thoughts to flow. It's amazing how one scene or picture can play with our thoughts, triggering numerous emotions, directly or indirectly.

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