Letters From the Editor

Off

‘There was a lull during which Velma loaded her cigarette case and Father Fabre surveyed the room – the bookcase with no books in it, only plants and bric-a-brac, and the overstuffed furniture rising like bread beneath the slipcovers, which rivaled nature in the tropics for color and variety of growing things, and the upright piano with the mandolin and two photographs on top: one would be the late Mr. Mathers and somewhere in the other, a group picture of graduating nurses, would be the girl he had married, now stout, being now what she had always been becoming. Mrs. Mathers was openly napping now. The room was filled with breathing, hers and Mr Pint’s in unison, and the sun fell upon them all and upon the trembling ferns.’
– JF Powers, The Presence of Grace

‘Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.’
– Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

‘Wear dark clothes after 6 p.m. Eat fresh fish for breakfast when available. Avoid kneeling in unheated stone churches. Ecclesiastical dampness causes prematurely gray hair. Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house. Courage tastes of blood. Stand up straight. Admire the world. Relish the love of a gentle woman. Trust in the Lord.’
– John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle

‘Thus can my love excuse the slow offense
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed –
From where thou art, why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
What excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind –
In winged speed no motion shall I know.
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;
Therefore desire, of perfect’st love being made,
Shall neigh no dull flesh in his fiery race,
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade –
Since from thee going he went willful slow,
Towards thee I’ll run, and give him leave to go.’
– Shakespeare, Sonnet 51

‘People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience.’
– Flannery O’Connor

‘Whoever really loves, abandons sincerity.’
– André Gide, The Counterfeiters

‘Immediately after the dying children, the screen is invaded by little girls six and eight years old, they are dressed like adults and have the appealing manner of aging flirts, oh it’s so cute, so touching, so funny, when children act like adults, the little girls and boys kiss on the mouth, then comes a man holding an infant in his arms, and as he’s explaining the best way to wash the diapers his baby just soiled, a beautiful woman approaches, opens her mouth, and sticks out a terrifically sexy tongue, which then penetrates the terrifically good-natured mouth of the baby-carrying fellow.’
– Kundera, Slowness

‘If a thing loves, it is infinite.’
– William Blake, Annotations to Swedenborg

‘One of the most mysterious of semi-speculations is, one would suppose, that of one Mind’s imagining into another.’
– John Keats, note on his copy of Paradise Lost, i.59-94

‘I am really a woodcarver
and my words are love
which willfully parades in its room
refusing to move.’
– Frank O’Hara, ‘Poem,’ Lunch Poems

‘Passion, intensity at moments – yes, but not this constant awareness, this endless readjusting, this ceaseless hunger. I believe that these are the reflections of the novelist’s own state of mind while he composes.’
– EM Forester

‘Annushka went out, but Anna did not begin dressing, and sat in the same position, her head and hands hanging listlessly, and every now and then she shivered all over, seemed as though she would make some gesture, utter some word, and sank back into lifelessness again. She repeated continually, ‘My God! My God!’ But neither ‘God’ nor ‘my’ had any meaning to her. The idea of seeking help in her difficulty in religion was as remote from her as seeking help from Aleksey Aleksandrovich himself, although she had never had doubts of the faith in which she had been brought up. She knew that the support of religion was possible only upon the condition of renouncing what made up for her the whole meaning of life. She was not simply miserable, she began to feel alarm at the new emotional condition, never experienced before, in which she found herself. She felt as though everything was beginning to be doubled in her soul, just as objects sometimes appear doubled to overtired eyes. She hardly knew at times what it was she feared, and what she hoped for. Whether she feared or desired what had happened, or what was going to happen, and exactly what she longed for, she could not have said.’
– Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

‘The ultimate hell was empty and infinite space.’
– John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

‘Mme Gherardi maintained that love, like most other blessings of civilisation, was a chimera which we desire the more, the further removed we are from Nature. Insofar as we seek Nature solely in another body, we become cut off from Her; for love, she declared, is a passion that pays its debts in a coin of its own minting.’
– W.G. Sebald, Vertigo

‘When I think that I have noted a truth, I always tremble lest I have written only a sigh’
– Stendahl

Off to be wedded. Out-of-touch for a while. Be well.

RB

biopic

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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