Issue 155 | April 2015
Spring means going to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and reading Cassandra Troyan’s Kill Manual and plaques for roses called SPIRIT ABUNDANCE and SALMON ABUNDANCE and HELLA LACY, meeting an iris named HELLO DARKNESS. Whenever my notebook content veers towards horror vacuii my handwriting turns ant-tiny and curls like shells. HELLO DARKNESS looks like script for a metal band shirt.
Thanatos seeks to relieve us of the messiness and pain of life. For me, part of it is a moral decision. To destroy the ugly, the bad in myself which sometimes becomes so apparent. I'm so overtaken by emotion and suffering that I crave relief. And if there is no time, ability, or patience to change, destruction presents itself as the best option. It's the bullet that ends the headache.
"My mother was one of those people who had no business having children. She was mentally ill and having five children to care for only made matters much worse. When I was eleven years old, she jumped out of a moving car and very nearly died. Most of my childhood was spent caring for my younger siblings, and that responsibility shaped me as a person and as a writer. All of you are public school teachers, so you know better than I that many children have parents who are ill equipped or uninterested or simply overwhelmed by the responsibility. [My siblings] didn't get much time or attention from our mother at all. So, you can see that sorting through the issues involved in reproductive choice comes naturally to me. The storywriter William Trevor speculates that all writers have one or two questions they explore in their writing. Carol Bly advocates figuring out your issues early on -- it's important to gain self-awareness as a writer. Otherwise, you'll write the same book over and over again."
"Maxwell's name appeared in earlier versions of the book, as did the names of the painting, the cathedral, the comet, the island, the horse... but in the end I had to cut them all. (Too distracting.) Maxwell remains one of my favorite American writers, and his response to my letter was gracious, brief, and typed on a manual typewriter with some slightly misaligned keys. What did I learn? I learned that William Maxwell answered his mail. I learned how it feels to receive a small gesture of great kindness."