Month: October 2015

Cosmos & conkers | edge of evening

Harvest

Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible that all of the weeks have the same number of days. Last week for example had five, but one was for Harvest Festival and one was for teacher training & so tacked itself onto next week’s half term holiday. Another was for being lost in a maze with a two-year-old & someone else’s three-year-old. Or at least that’s how it started before the three-year-old ran away from me. Then I was lost in a maze following elusive glimpses of a small child who, it seemed, was going to take me round in the same crazy-inducing circle, time after time. I offer it as a metaphor for parenthood for someone to use in a short story. I’ve been reading lots of short stories recently. I’m loosely following along with the Iowa How Writers Write Fiction MOOC again. Loosely meaning I’m a week behind; meaning I’m listening but not actively participating. Anyway, I’m enjoying it for the reading recommendations alone. Last night I reread ZZ Packer’s ‘Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’ from her collection of …

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald | edge of evening

Penelope Fitzgerald: The Bookshop

In 1959 Florence Green occasionally passed a night when she was not absolutely sure whether she had slept or not. This was because of her worries as to whether to purchase a small property, the Old House, with its own warehouse on the foreshore and to open the only bookshop in Hardborough. The uncertainty probably kept her awake. Seven years ago, when I turned thirty, we were in East Anglia to celebrate the wedding of our friends A & I. We spent the eve of my birthday in the small coastal town of Southwold. T was fifteen months old. We walked on the beach with her, looking out into the bleak North Sea, then sat on a bench outside a pub drinking pints of Adnams while she watched us from her pushchair. The skies were vast and pearly with opalescent cloud. It was our first hotel stay with a baby and when she’d fallen asleep we read together in the bathroom, taking it in turns to lie in the bath. The next morning it was raining. We ate …

neon pink sunset | edge of evening

Last night: wonder & knowledge

Running round the nature reserve listening to an interview with Mary Ruefle. Swans on the path with their two nearly grown cygnets, brown feathers still in clumps on their wings. Ruefle the wisest and most thought-provoking of companions. She prefers wonder to knowledge. With wonder, she says, you dwell; once you know something you move on. She would prefer to dwell. Tall daisies — ox-eye? — are fading on their stems. The sky is quilted with clouds. Later this quilt will glow neon pink as the sun drops behind the trees. Ruefle recalls the moment her life changed: age thirteen, lying in the basement of her parents’ house, a cast on her leg, hearing Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’ read by her older sister or perhaps reading it to herself from her sister’s college poetry anthology. Whichever way, heard or read, she can still see her sister standing at an ironing board. Later she talks about technology, about how she believes in her right to personal privacy and in the right to decide where she wants to direct her …

Agnes Martin by Gianfranco Gorgoni, 1974 | edge of evening

Agnes Martin

I lived in the present, which was that part of the future you could see. The past floated above my head, like the sun and the moon, visible but never reachable. from ‘Landscape’ by Louise Glück, in the collection Averno   Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not just in the eye. It is in the mind. It is our positive response to life.Agnes Martin, 1989 My paintings have neither objects nor space or time nor anything — no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging, about formlessness, breaking down form.Agnes Martin, 1966 Last Saturday we took the train to London & walked from Waterloo along the South Bank to the Tate to see the beautiful and lucid works in the Agnes Martin exhibition. I’d read that her work doesn’t reproduce well, and now I agree: the subtleties of texture and tiny variations in colour were invisible in the books and prints they were selling outside the exhibition. I think it’s the imperfections in her quest for perfection that make her work so captivating. Now she’s looking down on …

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion | edge of evening

Run River, Play It As It Lays

Somebody holds the door open for Lily in a hardware store, and she thinks she has a very complex situation on her hands.Run River by Joan Didion Something real was happening: this was, as it were, her life. If she could keep that in mind she would be able to play it through, do the right thing, whatever that meant.Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion I read Run River (1963) and Play It As It Lays (1970) back to back. Then I tried to remember what I had once read Zadie Smith saying about Didion’s fiction. I recall two things: (1) it was high praise; (2) it was in the days when my lunch hour used to take me to the Waterstones on Piccadilly pretty much every day and I would run up & down its art deco staircase high with the freedom of being out of the office, the wooden handrail smooth under my loose grip. These two points not being much to go on (giving me only Zadie Smith circa the time of On Beauty; myself …