“I felt I could ask her anything. I said, ‘Do you ever think of the meaning of what you write?’
“‘No. No.’ She raised a hand. ‘You see, I’m a pen. I’m nothing but a pen.’
“‘And do you imagine yourself in someone’s hand?’
“Tears came to her eyes. ‘Of course. Of course. It’s only then that I know I’m writing well. It’s only then that I know my writing is true. Not really true, not as fact. But true as writing. That’s what I know the Bible is true. I know it’s a translation of a translation of a translation, thousands of years old, but the writing is true, it reads true. Oh to be able to write like that! But you can’t do it. It’s not up to you. You’re picked up like a pen, and when you’re used up you’re thrown away, ruthlessly, and someone else is picked up. You can be sure of that: someone else will be picked up.’”
—David Plante, from “Jean Rhys: A Remembrance.”
“A place where you hide from the wolves. That’s all any room is.” —Jean Rhys, from The Art of Fiction No. 64.
It was Jean Rhys’s birthday and so I am up late on the Jean Rhys tag.
….one of those long, romantic novels, six hundred and fifty pages of small print, translated from French or German or Hungarian or something — because few of the English ones have the exact feeling I mean. And you read one page of it or even one phrase of it, and then you gobble up all the rest and go about in a dream for weeks afterwards, for months afterwards — perhaps all your life, who knows? — surrounded by those six hundred and fifty pages, the houses, the streets, the snow, the river, the roses, the girls, the sun, the ladies’ dresses and the gentlemen’s voices, the old, wicked, hard-hearted women and the old, sad women, the waltz music — everything. What is not there you put in afterwards, for it is alive, this book, and it grows in your head. ‘The house I was living in when I read that book,’ you think, or ‘This colour reminds me of that book.”
— Jean Rhys, Tigers are Better Looking (via paperswallow)
There are always two deaths, the real one and the one people know about.”
— Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (via larmoyante)
Short story reading list for my fall fiction workshop (though I always end up shifting things around a little here and there during the semester):
“Three Things You Should Know About Peggy Paula,” Lindsay Hunter
“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried,” Amy Hempel
“Benji,” Chinelo Okparanta
A great short story reading list from Laura van den Berg for her fall class.