“Thoreau the “Patron Saint of Swamps” because he enjoyed being in them and writing about them said, “my temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty.”
Flay everything open. Pry free the heart. It takes some nerve. What I mean is, it’ll hurt, but you can get at what you crave if you want it badly enough.
—-Kristen Arnett, Gator Butchering For Beginners
Sometimes fiction is about one thing but really about another thing. Today’s flash fiction is obviously about butchering an alligator but even more obviously not about butchering an alligator.
Also… when it comes to butchering an alligator – what is it like to be a beginner? More importantly what it is like to not be a beginner – to be, for example, the person that writes the instructions?
from Electric Literature
Afterward, our protestations of love poured forth simultaneously, linguistically complex and metaphorically rich: I daresay we had become poets. We were allowed to lie there, limbs intermingled, for nearly an hour. It was bliss. It was perfection. It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.
—-George Saunders, Escape from Spiderhead
Trying to get through the isolation by reading more. Another short story today – a very good, if more than a little harrowing.
from The New Yorker
This story is touted as a famous example of dystopian fiction. It’s a peculiar type of dystopia… a personal hell… maybe a penance, maybe deserved. Still, even under those circumstances the important thing is that some humanity and some sympathy for your fellow man remains. Still remains. Even if it doesn’t do anyone any good.
Excellent read. One plus – it’s definitely not safe for work.
Mamzelle Aurlie certainly did not pretend or aspire to such subtle and far-reaching knowledge on the subject as Aunt Ruby possessed, who had “raised five an’ buried six” in her day. She was glad enough to learn a few little mother-tricks to serve the moment’s need.
—– Kate Chopin, Regret
I, like a lot of people, read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in college. I liked it – and it left a lasting impression – though I obviously wasn’t paying much attention because I thought it took place in Europe – France to be exact. It wasn’t until decades and decades later I realized it was set in New Orleans and Belle Isle – places I have become very familiar with. I guess I wasn’t that far off – it’s sort of France.
At an rate, here’s today’s story – a tale of a very different place and an even more different time than we live in now. But the people are the same, after all.
Tom’s barrel chest jerked up, then down at regular intervals, following the dictates of the hospital ventilator. Attached to the machine, he seemed all torso, his lower half an afterthought, like the straw-haired Resusci Annies that he’d haul around the high school gym during CPR units. That was long ago, when he was the coach and Helen was the music teacher and they were, improbably perhaps, in love.
—-Elisabeth Dahl, Lobsters
Today’s short story has a setting that, unfortunately, a good number of us are probably going to be experiencing soon… sitting in a hospital room with a loved one (or, technically, an ex-loved one) on a respirator.
Read it here:
In the opening paragraph of the story, quoted above, is a reference to Resusci Annies. From the context, I assumed this was a CPR mannequin, but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up and sure enough, that’s what it meant. But, as often happens with this internet thing and all its rabbit holes – I found a story as interesting, if not more, that the short story itself. The face of a mysterious French girl who drowned in the Seine in the 19th century ended up saving millions of lives.
One small part of the story:
The lyric “Annie, are you OK?” from the Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal” actually stems from American CPR training, in which students practice speaking to their unresponsive plastic patient, CPR Annie.
“The Girl With Many Eyes
One day in the park
I had quite a surprise.
I met a girl
who had many eyes.
She was really quite pretty
(and also quite shocking!)
and I noticed she had a mouth,
so we ended up talking.
We talked about flowers,
and her poetry classes,
and the problems she’d have
if she ever wore glasses.
It’s great to know a girl
who has so many eyes,
but you really get wet
when she breaks down and cries.”
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
—-John Donne, Devotions on Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII