She shouldn’t have been surprised. She knew about Laurence’s delicacy and kindness, as well as she knew his bullying and bluffing. She knew the turns of his mind, his changes of heart, the little shifts and noises of his body. They were intimate. They had found out so much about each other that everything had got cancelled out by something else. That was why the sex between them could seem so shamefaced, merely and drearily lustful, like sex between siblings. Love could survive that - had survived it. Look how she loved him at this moment.”
— Alice Munro, “The White Dump” from The Progress of Love
“Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.”
I began. I told her insects fly through rain, missing every drop, never getting wet. I told her no one in America owned a tape recorder before Bing Crosby did. I told her the shape of the moon is like a…
Oh someone posted the entire story. Enjoy. :)
Finally I have a copy!
Tumblr broke down, became too busy, and I was in Cebu, but now i’m back with, and it’s time to get my Tumblr and my Wordpress.
The 30 Day Book Meme: Day 01 – Best book you read last year
Definitely one of the best collections I have ever read. No doubt it won the Pulitzer Prize. Heartbreaking and cold, Cheever’s lucid and exact prose cuts through the bone like a saw. One cannot help but feel such sadness and empathy for his simple characters who find themselves lost in a country who has won World War 2 but has lost their morale and their sense of morality. Perfect with cigarettes and coffee. And I think everyone who loves Mad Men will enoy this piece. If the show focused on the elites and heartless bastards working their way up the corporate ladder, these stories focus on the wrteched souls of those living in the suburbs and the children who will give life to the revolution of the 70’s. Definitely a must-have for all lovers of fiction.
OMG. Yes to this.
Book Blog Sophomore Entry: “No One Belongs Here More Than You” by Miranda July
It took a while before the book Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You landed on my lap. I had been calling bookstores for stock—they said they didn’t have it. Then I just decided to ask my best friend in the States to buy it for me. When he arrived, I was still in Negros Oriental, and it would be days before I could claim my order. I got back in Manila just in time for my friend’s wedding. The gang was there, including my balikbayan BFF who immediately let me in on the news that he had my books in the car. Of course, I missed him, missed him oh so much but no one could also dispute my excitement over my three new Amazon-ordered books. When the wedding reception was over, when the hoopla died down, the books were handed to me, one of them the new and bright yellow No One Belongs Here More Than You, and I was just so tempted to read it, right there, right inside the car, on our way home.
First two stories in the collection and I already found myself palpitating, taking quick breaths, wondering what the hell happened, why the stories had this surprising impact, why did they hurt. It was the good kind of hurt, just so you know, because I clamored for it. I wanted my stories to hit me so hard, I wanted them unforgettable, permanent, moving.
The book had me at “The Swim Team.”
It’s about a lonely and single 22 year old, how she was elected to swim coach by three octogenarians. The town they are living in is so old and insignificant it doesn’t have any swimming pool. The “coach” then decides to hold the lesson inside her kitchen, she insists they don’t need the pool. “I admitted these were not perfect conditions for learning to swim, but, I pointed out, this was how Olympic swimmers trained when there wasn’t a pool nearby. Yes yes yes, this was a lie, but we needed it because we were four people lying on the kitchen floor, kicking it loudly as if angry…. The connection to swimming had to be enforced with strong words.
What could be more achingly real and touching than the image of three old grandparents flailing their arms on the floor, imaging themselves underwater? What could be more affecting than hearing Jack Jack, Kelda, and Elizabeth enthusiastically say: “I’m working on it, Coach!” “Bombs away!”
“I thought the kitchen floor would give in and turn liquid and away they would go, with Jack Jack in the lead. He was precocious, to say the least. He actually moved across the floor, bowl of salt water and all. He’d come pounding back into the kitchen from a bedroom lap, covered with sweat and dust, and Kelda would look up at him, holding her book in both hands, and just beam. Swim to me, he’d say, but she was too scared, and it actually takes a huge amount of upper-body strength to swim on land…. Elizabeth added a rule that we all had to make a noise when we fell. This was a little creative for my taste, but I was open to innovation.”
The story is very simple; hmm, I bet some would even point out this favorite story of mine is more a setup than an actual story. It’s very short, for one thing. But who cares?
Each of the stories in the collection, I tell you, is precious. It’s all about depth and the magic embedded in the characters’ quotidian lives. It’s about pining for old loves and leading a lonely life, it’s about couples who try so hard to make things work, it’s about men being eternally set up with the sisters of their friends, as in the character from, well, “The Sister”: “Many times people have asked if I would like to meet their sister. Some women never marry and don’t fuss much with their appearance, and years don’t tiptoe around them. These women, they have brothers, and the brothers of such women often know a man like me, an old man who is alone.” (This story has a disturbing ending, by the way.)
Another favorite is “How To Tell Stories To Children,” which I first read from Dave Eggers’ Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007. Also:“Mon Plaisir,” “Ten True Things,” and “Making Love in 2003.”
How does Miranda July do it? Weeks after finishing this book, I watched her movie Me You And Everyone We Know and I…I just got it: She makes all these weird characters and she makes them do something outrageous and she lets them fall in love and hurt, and she makes them do crazy things when they start hurting. It’s her talent and penchant for a strange world where anything could happen that make the stories very engaging and relatable. Yes it helps that she knows her way with language and she has these lines that just pull you in. (“Here we were again, eating together in silence. I pressed my fork into the grens and began to cry. Carl looked up, we stared across the table at each other. It was plain between us: we should not be together any longer. And cut.”) It probably sucks to be a character in her stories, because of what she lets him or her go through, but somehow you just can’t help desire for the same vulnerability, the same special-ness of his/her fictional life. Am I making sense? Whatever, just please do yourself a wonderful favor and read this book. Miranda July is freakin’ awesome. I’m normally a gushy person and this books makes me, err, gushier.