Monday, December 20, 2010

Love, Absence, and the Thin Line of Existence

I've been reading for my new class next month, planning as much as I can, a class on the short story. I've chosen collections published in the last 20 years, some by first timers. Here are quotes from two debut books I've enjoyed immensely this weekend.

From Once the Shore, by Paul Yoon:

"He considered the possibility that there were many kinds of love and as you experienced one, you felt the absence of all the others. He thought of a city perpetually opening onto the sea."

From The Shell Collector, by Anthony Doerr (and a fitting quote for the winter solstice):

Context is a woman who can divine the life experiences of dead creatures (or people) by touching them and going into a trance / vision she can share with others.

"More clearly than ever she could see that there was a fine line between dreams and wakefulness, between living and dying, a line so tenuous it sometimes didn't exist. It was always clearest for her in winter. In winter, in that valley, life and death were not so different. The heart of a hibernating newt was frozen solid but she could warm and wake it in her palm. For the newt there was no line at all, no fence, no River Styx, only an area between living and dying, like a snowfield between two lakes: a place where lake denizens sometimes met each other on their way to the other side, where there was only one state of being, neither living nor dead, where death was only a possibility and visions rose shimmering to the stars like smoke. All that was needed was a hand, the heat of a palm, the touch of fingers."


Diana Studer said...

Was at a funeral this morning - and just that was missing - the touch of her fingers. Sounds an interesting and inviting short story.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Beautiful quotes. Think I'll recommend these writers to my intoxicated-by-fiction daughter--and check them out myself.

Anonymous said...

Eloquent prose! I now have the get the books!