Monthly Archives: March 2010

People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water

I just read the titular story of this post by Annie Proulx and it literally gave me the shivers in the last paragraph. Proulx writes a horrific story of mental illness, disfigurement, castration, and hopelessness, and then says, “We are in a new millenium and such desperate things no longer happen.” But that’s not the last sentence. The final sentence reads, “If you believe that you’ll believe anything.” That’s what gives me the chills. And it did again as I typed it.
Proulx’s writing about Wyoming reminds me a lot of Flannery O’Conner’s writing about the south. Both authors focus on the grotesque. And I always have that same goosebumpy feeling when I get to the end of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” when The Misfit says about the grandmother (after executing the entire family):
“She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
These are two extremely well-crafted stories that are intensely violent in nature, but that do not elevate violence or make it something wonderful. Violence is shown for what it is–dangerous and infinitely sad.


Peter Pan Redux

I just finished reading Peter Pan and I am amazed at what a wonderful book it is. I had never read it; I think I had just seen the Disney movie, and read the Golden Book version of the story. It is so well-written, and really thought-provoking. As Wendy ages, she loses the ability to see Peter Pan, and in fact almost forgets who he is. But at the end we learn her daughter goes to live with him in Neverland, and then her granddaughter.
I thought a lot about my own ability to imagine Neverland, and how children seem to have a special ability to be imaginative. At some point we lose that–and I have a pet theory that it is in part because children are just inherantly selfish (not a bad thing, mind you, just true) and so they don’t worry much about anyone else–at least most kids. As we become more aware of those around us, and more aware of our responsibilities, it becomes harder and harder to lose ourselves in imagination.
When I was little, I had a tree with a Y shaped branch where I would sit for hours and pretend I was riding a horse (Butterball) and having adventures. I’ve lost that great ability (and moved far away from that apple tree).
Now I think I experience imagination more vicariously–in books and movies where I can immerse myself in someone else’s life. But I think I need to practice using my imagination more.
If you have never read the original Peter Pan, I highly recommend it. It is brilliant, funny, and in many ways, not a kids’ book at all.