London grew impossible. Its turns forgot themselves, took new direction. Cobblestones loosened like teeth. The dim became permanent, the kind of dim in which everything takes a shape slightly different from its own.
A girl, to navigate the streets, sewed her fingers into sails. She landed on outcroppings, things of metal and stone. She learned to balance in the wind, to catch it in her cheeks. On the ground, she found corners away from doors and windows. There she repaired her hands, squinting. She used the smallest stitches.
UPDATE: Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon wrote a lovely piece on the comma drama, "Don’t Kill the Oxford Comma!" Though Oxford U has done its best to alleviate the gravity of this situation for grammar nerds, Williams’s passionate conclusion still captivates:
And though you may think you’ve taken away our beloved little swipe of typeface this time, comma haters, the serial comma community is determined, tenacious, and resilient. We will keep sticking the comma into our sentences, and still sacrifice that one valuable character of our tweets in its service. We may still be reeling with denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, but you will never, ever have our acceptance.
I’m a big ol’ snoop; I’ve never been ashamed of this and willingly admit that I will probably look through your drawers and Google you. I’m sorry! I’m cursed by insatiable curiosity.
Which leads to my love of letters. I enjoy writing letters, finding the practice cathartic and illuminating. Everything makes a little more sense when I write it out to someone else. But, just as much, I enjoy reading letters. One may try to stylize a letter, to perfect a letter, to shield oneself — but, I think, a writer’s self shines through letter-writing.
Saul Bellow’s letters. I haven’t read these yet, but the reviews are very positive. As Philip Roth says, “It comes as no surprise to find that the great novelist was a great correspondent as well.” For a slightly dull preview, see the above letter from Bellow to Samuel Goldberg, his lawyer & friend.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. Here’s a good one! One can snoop into the Fitzgeralds’ screwy marriage withDear Scott, Dearest Zelda. They’re a bit heart-wrenching, at times: “I am infinitely sorry that I have been ungrateful for your attempts to help me. Try to understand that people are not always reasonable when the world is as unstable and vacillating as a sick head can render it” (that’s Zelda). And, to complicate things, one can also read love letters between F. Scott & Ginevra King in The Perfect Hour. Mmm, juicy.
Emily Dickinson’s “Master Letters.” My personal favorite since I love Dickinson so, and she is so mysterious. Well, guess what? Her letters are, too. They are a great puzzle. “Each Sabbath on the Sea, makes me count the Sabbaths, till we meet on shore.”
Twitter has naturally become a wellspring of nano-fiction. J.M. Tohline, author of THE GREAT LENORE, writes very good Twitter stories. An example: “A story: She didn’t like the way his face looked. But she didn’t have the heart to tell him. So she said ‘I do.’ The end.”
The Community Bookstore, on Court Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is the messiest bookstore I’ve visited. Books piled on books, covers kissing covers. And about half of the inventory is in boxes or crates that one can shift through for hours. Need a well-loved Larousse Gastronomique for $25 or Colum McCann’s latest for $5? Go.
“Joe once told me he felt a little sorry for women, who only got husbands. Husbands tried to help by giving answers, being logical, stubbornly applying force as though it were a glue gun. Or else they didn’t try to help at all, for they were somewhere else entirely, out walking in the world by themselves. But wives, oh wives, when they weren’t being bitter or melancholy or counting the beads on their abacus of disappointment, they could take care of you with delicate and effortless ease.”— Meg Wolitzer, The Wife