Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Breathless

A few days ago, I wrote about how I love the way amazing writing can steal my breath--literally make me feel as though the air has been taken from my chest. It is a powerful, delicious feeling. I ended the post by saying that I would be reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers this week. Maria shared with me one of her favorite passages from the book--a passage that left her breathless. I promised her that when I finished, I would do the same with my favorites. I am keeping that promise...

His bowels seemed weighted with lead, and he walked slowly and lingered against fences and the cold, wet walls of buildings by the way. Descent into the depths until at last there was no further chasm below. He touched the solid bottom of despair and there took ease.

In this he knew a certain strong and holy gladness. The persecuted laugh, and the black slave sings to his outraged soul beneath the whip. A song was in him now--although it was not music but only the feeling of a song. And the sodden heaviness of peace weighted down his limbs so that it was only with the strong, true purpose that he moved. Why did he go onward? Why did he not rest here upon the bottom of utmost humiliation and for a while take his content?

But he went onward.


The silence in the room was deep as the night itself. Biff stood transfixed, lost in his meditation. Then suddenly he felt a quickening in him. His heart turned and he leaned his back against the counter for support. For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who--one word--love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only. For in him he felt a warning, a shaft of terror. Between the two worlds he was suspended. He saw that he was looking at his own face in the counter glass before him...And he was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith.

And I was breathless.


I am now moving on to Virginia Woolf, rereading Mrs. Dalloway, a book I haven't touched since college. After that, it's To the Lighthouse. Then...back to medicine.

And finally, as long as we are talking about amazing writing, please treat yourself by visiting Maria's latest post. She is saying goodbye to her neighbor, Sven, as he prepares to leave for school; and well...I'll let her take it from there.

8 comments:

Kate Isis said...

Maria's post was amazing, beautifully written.
Great link terroni.

dive said...

Fabulous, T.
I've been trying to put together a post on great writing just like this but you've negated the need.
Brilliant. Thanks.

Robyn said...

Thank you for the excerpts.

I tried reading Mrs. Dalloway last year and didn't get far. I'll give it another try.

Carrie said...

Sometimes I dread long posts. I'm so guilty of it myself but Maria sure does know how to have you sit back and invision what she is writing. Amazing huh?

Mme Benaut said...

Wonderful little Terroni and Maria's was wonderful too. I've been impressed with Maria's loving comments on your blog from time to time so it's great to take a peek into her world too.
I'm often amazed not only at how caring some folks can be but how lovingly they can write about it. It's something I don't really have a knack for - I get overwhelmed by the emotion of it - don't know where to start and end up not starting at all. I think the discipline of all that non-fiction writing (if you can say that about political speeches???) has put a damper on my creativity or maybe I'm just a little tired for the time being. No matter, I have you which is a bit like reading a novel, one day at a time or as Maria says in her profile: reading gets her over the hills - I like that too. Enjoy your reading little one.

Maria said...

Well...I'm sort of speechless here. (And you are surprised that long winded me could EVER be that way, yes?)

Thanks, doll. And good luck with Virginia. I swear, I have tried so many times to read her stuff and always end up feeling overloaded and bored. I should give it a try again.

Thanks for the nod, my bitch. :)

And right back at you. Twice.

Proxima said...

i'm not really into Virginia Wolf, but I like George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda" and Charolotte Bronte's "Wuthering Heights".

Going 180' now, you may appreciate the book "Dead Men do tell tales" by a Professor at UF, William R Maples, Ph.D.

The original Gil Grissam if there ever was one. A Forensic Anthropologist who doesn't forget his own humanity when holding the bones of the dead.

-P

Terroni said...

M~ The nod is my pleasure. And I love being your bitch. I feel as though I've found my true calling.

I'm living the dream, baby!