Insights found while reading
Every life is a story, which is why I'm drawn to biography and memoir. In the dramas that someone actually lived, I find insights I can use in my own helter-skelter life, where the lines of the narrative tend to blur for months or even years at a time, in the busyness of getting things done. I read other people's bons mots with pen in hand, underlining passages to contemplate later. "Yes, that's it!" I will think to myself. Or "Now, that's a surprising perspective. Should I give it a go?" Or "This might come in useful someday. But please, not yet." Here, a few discoveries from the books on my bedside table:
On breaking the rules: "You can do anything you like if you are willing to pay the full price for it."---Martha Gellhorn (war reporter, fiction writer, world traveler, human rights activist, ex-wife of Ernest Hemingway and ever-restless serial monogamist), in Gellhorn: a Twentieth-Century Life by Caroline Moorhead.
On sex: "When I make love I take my whole life in my hands, the damage and the ride, the bad memories and the good, all that I am or might be, and I do indeed love myself, can indeed do any damn thing I please. I know the place where courage and desire come together, where pride and joy push lust through the bloodstream, right to the heart."---Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure.
On a writer's childhood: "...what I suffered from most painfully was unrequited vivacity: I wanted to be merry and lively, and the leaden spirit of those sour-spirited Scottish kids, whose vivacity expressed itself in torturing animals and jeering at the crippled (the town boasted a notable dwarf who hanged himself eventually, so jolly had life been made for him)...Ooooooh, how Canada marks us, and mars us, and maims us."---Robertson Davies, in Robertson Davies: a Portrait in Mosaic by Val Ross.
On the dangers of comparing oneself to others (advice to dancers in a master class, but relevant to all creative work): "There will always ben a dancer who turns more times than you, whose leg goes higher, jumps better---prettier, thinner, something. But no one has what you have---your eyes, your neck, how you carry yourself. So you'd better start liking that, and showing it."---Suzanne Farrell, retired ballerina and ballet teacher, in Twenty-eight artists and Two Saints: Essays by Joan Acocella.
On the lonely work of dying young: "It says a lot about the power of denial that I could so automatically seek (and find!) the silver lining that might come with dying of cancer at forty-three. For good and ill, I no longer think that way. The passage of time has brought me the unlikely ability to work, simultaneously, at facing my death and loving my life."---journalist Marjorie Williams in her posthumous collection The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politcs, Family and Fate.
Posted by Rona October 24, 2008 @ 3:00 AM. File in What I'm reading