The Writing Life,
Annie Dillard wrote,
I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
On the first of each month, a guest writer shares how he or she spends the day.
January 1, 2013: Claire Vaye Watkins
The confidence with which Claire Vaye Watkins writes is stunning. More than trusting the reader, she trusts her own sentences. I recently read her first book–Battleborn–a collection of ten stories about the American West, about Nevada.
- associative lines that add a looseness to the stories and space for the reader;
- plain sturdy beginnings that seem to be saying the author doesn’t care whether you read the story or not (the exception being the first story, with its alluring beginning). And in fact, if I hadn’t heard such good things about the stories, I wouldn’t have continued beyond most of them—and that would have been my loss, which gives me something to think about;
- subtle endings that often take a moment to fall into place, and then wow.
Here are a few more specific reasons to read the book (no spoilers):
- the alluring beginning of the first story:
The day my mom checked out, Razor Blade Baby checked in. At the end, I can’t stop thinking about beginnings. (1)
- one of my favorite story titles ever– “The Past Perfect, the Past Continuous, the Simple Past.”
- these passages that go beyond their wonderful beginnings to brilliance:
A casino can make an average man lovely. … You don’t want to know what a casino can do to a man already lovely. (19)
Like all our memories, we like to take it out once in a while and lay it flat on the kitchen table, the way my wife does with her sewing patterns, where we line up the shape of our life against that which we thought it would be by now. (29)
Sometimes love is a wound that opens and closes, opens and closes, all our lives. (33)
Come back on January 1st to read how Claire Vaye Watkins spends her days.
Looking forward to it!
I’m looking forward to it too : )
Nice excerpts with a twist. The book jacket art is gorgeous too. Thanks for the intro to Watkins.
Thanks, Sarah. I already can’t wait for her next book.
Hello Cynthia, I am really looking forward to reading your piece with Claire Vaye Watkins. I just reading Battleborn. This writing touches my heart. Can’t wait.
All very best to you and yours for the holiday season,
Thanks, Susanna. Happy New Year to you!