Although official summer doesn’t end for some time, the academic year for many, including myself, is gearing up. So I’ll be moving from one kind of writing schedule to another. Both work, but I can’t help already feeling nostalgic for the early summer days when I wake before five simply because it is light. That is when I write in the morning and read during the afternoon. Come next week, mornings will be taken up with classes, and I’ll start to write after three. The persimmon jewel box of my office at home will be replaced by the expansive, glass-walled room where I teach, the “white noise” of lawn mowers in our neighborhood become students’ voices on the field.
The memoir revision is moving toward completion, and research for two more “Venice” pieces is well under way. So I continue to move between vivid memories of my own past and an imagined past in the Venetian Lagoon. Both are small localities that for me comprise a large part of this writer’s conscious world.
How I enjoy multiple points of view!
“Bertha” of JANE EYRE has come alive once more to me in my preparing-to-teach re-reading of WIDE SARGASSO SEA. Jean Rhys has written Rochester’s wife differently and vividly from her first incarnation in Charlotte Bronte’s novel, through the woman’s own words and her relationships with other characters before and after England.
When “Bertha’s” wild passion diminishes for a time as a potion calms her sea-bound toward England, she says, “It isn’t like it seems to be.” The man who gave her the drug replies, “I know. It never is.”
How do we know “seems” and “is”? What would Hamlet say?
This is what happens when I read and write. Characters change into people for me. How about you?
As I sit down to revise a memoir entitled WIFE, MOTHER, VIRGIN, WHORE? NO, ZIA! about my paternal aunt, Pasqualina, Lena, Lee, Auntie Lee, I wonder–
Is writing fiction escape while writing memoir confrontation?
What do you think?
What a thoroughly absorbing way to have lost all track of the violent, prolonged thunderstorm last evening!
I became instantly engaged, then completely immersed in William Trevor’s compact novel, MY HOUSE IN TUSCANY.
While I won’t ruin your own experience of the characters and plot, I must share with you the fact that the story’s structure holds and doesn’t let go. Little, sequenced epiphanies pop into your eyes like raindrops and a doozy of a realization reminds you not to be fooled into imagining this story a simple escape.
The book was first published in 1991. The setting is Umbria in the late Eighties. The impetus for the story is a terrorist-caused explosion on a train. Suffice it to say that a post-911 reading adds another layer to the complexities of what the protagonst, “Mrs. Delahunty,” calls, the “outrage.”
Read this book. Revel in its impeccable narrative voice. See the meticulously described bodies, vistas, rooms. Draw a breath at the suffering of the survivors (i.e., every character in the book, not just those who have escaped death on the train). Enjoy the contrast between human attempts to endure and the neat simplicity of the romance-novel plots that “Mrs. Delahunty” contrives.
You can be sure I’ll be reading the rest of Trevor’s work this summer.
I hope you will, too.