Ice in the trees

I finished reading Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree last night. So, so exquisite. He knows people and can write them. I felt I knew his characters and loved them despite myself.  The dialogue is realistic and sparse.  His writing is the most perfect of prose; no word extraneous, no clichés.  No overt explanations of murky conversations, no obnoxious narration explaining everything that ever happened to the characters.  There are some words you might have missed, characters’ names you can’t remember.  A lot like the guarded memories of people you know, a lot like life.  

I have been inhaling books lately.  Recently finished George Sand’s Valentine and Indiana, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.  I didn’t enjoy Sand’s novels and found them to be tedious and inhuman.  I do not see life as so dramatic and cruel as she seems to think it is and her female characters are not strong women (or people) and that really bothers me.  George Sand herself seems like she was such an interesting woman: she had a lot of affairs, even while married, and seems to have felt more liberated than most French women during her lifetime.  So why make her characters so unlike herself?  

I relate to the way in which Miller and McCarthy talk about sexual encounters, each in their separate styles.  It is honest and open, nothing shameful or crude in it, prostitutes or not.  Sometimes I think American society would be much better if religion weren’t so anti-sexual and if prostitution were legal.  

Even reading books I do not like inspires me to write.  It helps me to remain mindful of what I don’t want to sound like.  Writing takes much practice, much love and diligence but it is something bright to take joy from during this part of my life.  I am not miserable but I do not feel content.  I am not used to having so much spare time.  I am more productive and happier when I have many things to do.  So many things need adjusting to but I am not resentful.  Everything is temporary and always shifting.  Rather than be discouraged, I can embrace what my life is and enjoy what I have.


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