Many of my favorite novels are told from the first person, at least in part. I recently read Erlend Loe’s latest book; in it, he brings back a beloved character, an outcast who doesn’t fit into the world of ‘normality’. The story didn’t appeal to me as much as the first one but the narration was equally captivating. So this outcast comes back after having lived a solitary life in the woods for a few years, and estimates his wife’s new partner from afar. “He is unbearably symmetrical”, our hero thinks, “everything he has on one side of the face is there on another.” (A loose translation on my part as I didn’t read it in English.) Who writes that, if you know what I mean!? Loe has a way with those everyday nuances people take for granted and things that go without saying. You can’t help but feel with this character, and through a simplest of sentences, realize the intensity of his emotions.
(To be continued)
Shaping one’s imagination into gripping prose is a lot like martial arts: the end result doesn’t give away the amount of sweat that goes into the act. You see, my literary heroes seem to have this quality that escapes being shaped into singular advice on plotting, dialogue and such. One could say that I enjoy stories that bring absurdity into the mundane, those that play with my perception of everyday things. If the main character or the narrator is a strong and a captivating persona, the story, to me, becomes secondary; they can well grab my attention by telling me a chicken soup recipe. And I guess I enjoy first-person narratives for that same reason. It’s as if a singular, deeply limited view on events sits well with my own narrowness and helplessness as a human being…
(To be continued)
The train came and people rushed out in clusters. A teenage girl with large headphones and a handful of gadgets smacked me with her backpack. A man in his 30’s stumbled when a radiant woman sought his embrace. I wondered if she will do the same. Will she wear an expression of glee, resolution? Or unease – my insides iced at the thought. The conductor held a bent woman’s bag, escorting her to the exit. I stared at the dispersing crowd, waiting for the verdict to arrive with her face. The last groups walked, chatted and laughed. She wasn’t there.
Was it what you knew
That drew you away?
Was it that we weren’t aware?
Our arc of togetherness
Is burdened by all said, or unsaid;
We forgot how to be.
Silence and secrets –
Sly balms and weapons –
Too long to aid, too short to awaken
Make us opposing figures
In a stalemate game.
Inevitably time flow will
End mutual deafness.
Or innate pulsation of piled decades.
Do you, too, blame me?
We are love stuck in a maze, seeking the line
Of rich and of poor patience.
carries all there is:
we meet, and we part
each time like the first.
wrench the roots
we hang on to the clutter
looking to tape back who we were.
zoom in and out from
the inside of cracked eyes.
we wade. To lull and
forget – if for moments –
is providence of a human heart.
It lingers for a while each time we meet, wrapping us both in coats of recognition. You may not know how tender your manner is, or may not wish to act upon it. Once we part those alternatives stare at me, teasing. Until I forget.
But everything stops, briefly, as we’re there without any favorable aims in sight, allowing us to return to where we left off.
Moments stolen from decay are infused with comradery and recognition. Like a phoenix, our momentum glides between reality and dreams, touching on peaks of being alive and affairs that don’t even exist.