Spring has officially begun (according to science), but we’re still feeling a bit ambivalently about the whole thing…
I Thought About the Ways You Might Have Died, by Troy Palmer
From Little Fiction’s Listerature Vol. 2
Read by Xe Sands
Copyright 2013 Little Fiction. Recorded with author and publisher’s permission.
If you haven’t yet checked out Little Fiction, this is the perfect time as they’ve recently published their second set of stories in “list” format, cleverly titled – Listerature (Volume 2). Have to say that I love this format, perhaps even more than more traditional flash or micro-fiction (is there such a thing as “standard flash/micro-fiction?)…it’s sort of a poem-meets-prose effect, and challenges the writer to pare down their story into a set of almost arbitrary-seeming lines that still pack the full punch of the story. And when done well, that gut punch sneaks up on you as your eyes fly through the list ahead of your comprehension.
Troy Palmer starts out the collection with this exceptionally affecting list. And as I’ve tried to type out my thoughts on it, I find myself completely tangled up in the emotional experience of writing this list, maybe speaking it aloud to the empty house, sitting on the floor, having cried until I’m spent…and just being a bit stunned by the last little cruel joke. It wasn’t any of the ways I thought you’d go, was it? Not any of the selfish or self-pitying scenarios I’d conjured up after years of missing you…but something I couldn’t possibly foresee without stepping outside the comfortable, selfish bubble of absence I’d constructed.
…or something like that.
And any piece of writing that can transport me to a an emotional place that does not exist for me personally is exceptional by my count, and exactly the experience I look for when reading.
солнечный луч, by Anna Akhmatova
Sunbeam, by Anna Akhmatova
Read by Sonia Vilim, in Russian and English
A poem from Anna Akhamtova´s Silver Age featured in the book of verse Evening (Vecher).
Молюсь оконному лучу –
Он бледен, тонок, прям.
Сегодня я с утра молчу,
А сердце – пополам.
На рукомойнике моем
Но так играет луч на нем,
Что весело глядеть.
Такой невинный и простой
В вечерней тишине,
Но в этой храмине пустой
Он словно праздник золотой
И утешенье мне.
I pray to the sunbeam from the window –
It is pale, thin, straight.
Since morning I have been silent,
And my heart – is split.
The copper on my washstand
Has turned green,
But the sunbeam plays on it
How innocent it is, and simple,
In the evening calm,
But to me in this deserted temple
It’s like a golden celebration,
And a consolation.
Work Without Hope, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Read by Diane Havens
Written at the change of season, winter into spring, in 1825, this ode by Samuel Taylor Coleridge bemoans his own lack of resiliency and productivity, stuck in a personal winter when all of nature around him is alive with meaningful work. There is no joy, no reason to work without hope, without contributing to the world. A reason to exist.
Underscored with a lovely pavan from the early music of Jon Sayles.
Tom Jones – Book 4, Chapter 3, by Henry Fielding
Read by Mark Turetsky
Book 4 Chapter 3 of Tom Jones.
This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.
Well, now that we’ve had our chapter-long description of Sophia, we can finally get down to Tom asking her for help with her father, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out, we need to turn our eye back five years, to an incident involving a bird.
Here, we see Master Blifil’s manipulativeness and his callous cruelty. He’s jealous of Sophia’s affection for Tom, and therefore takes the symbol of that affection, a bird that Tom had procured for Sophia, and “sets it free.” He claims he felt sad for the bird, but his sadistic pleasure in telling Sophia that the bird has been eaten by a hawk should be a tip-off.
An interesting thing, that is completely consistent with Fielding’s writing thus far, is that he takes pains not to reveal the inner emotions and motivations of his characters. Instead, he likens it to riffling through people’s cupboards in order to find their secrets to reveal to the world. It’s an interesting point of view for an author to take, and it allows him to seem to take Blifil’s side while allowing his reader to figure out what a little twerp he is.