finding, in our books, the persons we must be now.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I write less here on this blog than I used to. The conversation I am having is mostly with myself. When my son calls and asks how I am—when friends ask—I have no news, no funny anecdotes, I am mostly absent. Perched on the edge.

I am reading, I am writing, I am reading more. I am reading memoirs or novels that might have been memoirs or books on the meaning of story. Eileen Myles (Chelsea Girls). Alison Bechdel (Are You My Mother?). Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts and Bluets). Decca Aitkenhead (All At Sea). Sarah Manguso (Ongoingness). Heidi Julavits (The Folded Clock). Ta-Nehesi Coates (again). Claudia Rankine (again). Joan Silber (The Art of Time in Fiction).

Every time I slip inside these books I am living, for a spell, as other. Walking, as they say, in others' shoes.

The news is crisis. It is a madness that requires us to absent ourselves from ourselves so that we might occupy the heart and mind of others. White. Blue. Black. Whatever color it is: take your own off, put another on, and see. Feel. Think.

Two weeks ago I taught memoir to a group of six who, in their glorious differences, were gorgeously one. Tonight we will have dinner with friends who know and love us. In between I am seeking, in the books I read, a path toward greater empathy and knowing. So that when I return to me I'll be bigger than I was. More capable of making some kind of earthly difference.


Cynthia Pittmann said...

Yes, I understand and appreciate your sentiment. News is hard. I'm reading a lot of books this summer, too. I'm drawn to exist in another book life while I process all the real life violence.

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