“The striking thing about her search for God is that she sometimes finds him. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’s second chapter, after a kind of introduction, is titled ‘Seeing.’ There are two kinds, she explains. The common variety is active, where you strain, against the running babble of internal monologue, to pay attention to what’s actually in front of you. But, she tells us, ‘there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.’ You do not seek, you wait. It isn’t prayer; it is grace. The visions come to you, and they come from out of the blue.” On Annie Dillard’s turn to silence.
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
A writer in her own right, Sybille Lacan reflects on her experience as the daughter of famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. She writes, “Father, for our birthdays, would give us superb gifts (I believe it took me far too long to understand it was not he who had picked them out).”
Well, Cervantes‘s body was just found, and there are some varying opinions about whether or not that’s a great thing for Spain and Spanish literature. What is almost definitely not a great thing for either: the pornographic Spanish Don Quixote cartoon from the seventies.
“Thinking about her life is like sifting ashes. You believe you see the clear outline of a message, but it inevitably disintegrates before you can be sure of its sense. The mantle of a ‘rediscovered writer’ has never settled firmly around [her] shoulders; she has a way of resisting the platitudes of remembering.” Michelle Dean on the writer Nella Larsen.