Thursday, October 20, 2005

Matt and I went to our favorite breakfast spot, the Flabob Airport Cafe, this morning (we go there at least once a week.) I've mentioned their little "library" before--people bring in books and set them on top of the fireplace; you can bring them home for free and either keep them or return them later. Today, I picked up a novel by the poet Stephen Dobyns (The Church of Dead Girls, which has a nice rhythmic similarity to The Book of Dead Birds!), and A Voice Crying in the Wilderness: Notes from a Secret Journal by Edward Abbey. The Abbey book is full of aphorisms--some of them goofy, some of them cranky, some of them profound. There is a whole section called "On Writing and Writers, Books and Art." Here are some samples:

--In writing, fidelity to fact leads eventually to the poetry of truth. (I just realized that I wrote "fidelity to face" by accident when I first posted this; that made an interesting sentence!)

--Any hack can safely rail away at foreign powers beyond the sea; but a good writer is a critic of the society he lives in.

--I would prefer to write about everything; what else is there? But one must be selective.

--"The mind is everything," wrote Proust. No doubt true, when you're dead from the neck down.

--Literature, like anything else, can become a wearisome business if you make a lifetime specialty of it. A healthy, wholesome man would no more spend his entire life reading great books than he would packing cookies for Nabisco.

--Poetry, even bad poetry, may be our final hope.

--The artist in our time has two chief responsibilities: (1) art; and (2) sedition.

--Good writing can be defined as having something to say and saying it well. When one has nothing to say, one should remain silent. Silence is always beautiful at such times.

--In art as in a boat, a bullet, or a coconut-cream pie, purpose determines form.

--My books are not taken seriously. But that's all right; they are given playfully.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever read "The Writing Life" By Annie Dillard? Amazing. She is one of my favorites. If you haven't, you should pick it up...


gayle said...

I LOVE that book. It's been awhile since I've read it--I should pick it up again...

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I knew you were going to say that! She is amazing. I am pretty sure I have read most everything she has ever written, but "For the Time Being" is probably my favorite. You just went up two notches in my already high opinion of you :)