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
how he or she spends the day.
July 1, 2016: Sari Wilson
Sari Wilson’s debut novel, Girl Through Glass, opens with a look at New York.
The garbage bags pile high on the sidewalks. The city shudders and heaves under the heat. The newspapers are filled with accounts of people being shot at night in darkened cars. Pride at New York City having its very own serial killer competes with the fear of going out after dark.
Then on the second page, after a space break, we discover what can be found inside the big, dark world of New York.
Inside the world of asphalt and concrete, there is another world. Things that look like they are made by someone’s hands: grosgrain ribbons and spiderweb-thin hairnets and soft leather slippers. Down the crumbling school corridors and cracked sidewalks, these delicate things can be carried like talismans in jeans pockets or book bags.
Girl Through Glass is rich in these images of things to be found inside other things. For example, one section of the novel is entitled “Pearls.” These images lead us ultimately to the real story–the girl to be found inside the woman, an idea I’ve been obsessed with for years. When we grow up, what becomes of the girl we were?
Her grandmother had given her a Russian nesting doll for her tenth birthday. The dolls painted on oblong wooden eggs. The women get smaller as the eggs get smaller. Each woman rests inside another woman until the last tiny woman stands there wobbling on the table.
Sari told NPR that Girl Through Glass is based on the personal, that ballet was once her life and that when she hit puberty, the dark side of things revealed itself and ultimately she left the world of dance. This novel is her attempt to take a closer look at what happened, and it’s perfectly structured for the story it has to tell, using two alternating narratives, each told in the present tense. The Mira narrative is in third person and takes place in the seventies, starting with Mira at age 11, while the Kate narrative is in first person and takes place in the present, with Kate as a professor and dance historian. Each narrative has a very different feel–Mira’s full of hopes and dreams and Kate’s full of reality. From Kate,
My focus splits and I see both this Felicia, this adult of the mysterious jobs and fluttering hands and crystalline skin, and also at the same time the girl whose earnest, pleading eyes and careful ringlets I admired so much until I understood the effort involved in creating them.
Who we were, who we are, and how to make sense of it. While I was reading the novel, I felt as if I were watching Mira, not as if I were watching a performance, but as if I were looking for clues, looking at her through glass.
Come back on JULY 1st to read how SARI WILSON spends her days.
Ooh. Excited for July first!
Louise! It’s so great to hear from you. Hope all is great with you.
This book has been on my list! Can’t wait to read it.
Thanks, Lindsey–happy summer!
Congratulations to Sari on her debut! These excerpts are like poetry and remind me of my childhood in NYC. I love the cover design too.
And congratulations to you, Sarah, on your new agent! I love the cover of this book too.
This was such a treat, Cynthia, to write this blog and to reflect deeply on a writing day–thanks for the invite!
Sari, thank you so much for your wonderful essay. Loved reading it.