Wednesday, 25 February 2009

william maxwell

not so long ago sorlil tagged me to post 'a phrase: a few lines from a poem, a song, or an overheard sentence that rings important inside you.' i'm normally rubbish at this, i can't remember the words to songs, not even my own poetry so those apt quotable phrases most often go floating out of my head. i mean to annotate my books, i really do, but it rarely happens.

only this week i am again reading william maxwell, this time time will darken it, a book i haven't picked up in a few years. i may have gone on at some length about so long, see you tomorrow but really, this is even better. why so? well you'll just have to read it. in fact you can read quite a lot if you've a mind as you could easily buy all his work, except for bright center of heaven from amazon sellers for under a tenner excluding postage, all in a lovely harvill imprint.

delighted as i was to find richard yates revolutionary road in tescos the other day, like yates, at least until the film, the lack of attention paid to maxwell is a mystery to me. i like him way better than fitzgerald and that's the level at which he should be considered. even aside from that his career as an editor is to be both appreciated and envied.

so it is that parcels have been arriving thick and fast from amazon this week and all the maxwells i've been meaning to read are now on my shelves. i don't intend reading them soon but to space them out so that i can eke out that pleasure of first reading for just that little bit longer.

anyway, back to sorlil. i was reading this in time will darken it this week and, among many such examples, the following struck a chord

There is nothing so difficult to arrive at as the nature and personality of one's parents. Death, about which so much mystery is made, is perhaps no mystery at all. But the history of one's parents has to be pieced together from fragments, their motives and character guessed at, and the truth about them remains deeply buried, like a boulder that projects one small surface above the level of a smooth lawn, and when you come to dig around it, proves to be too large ever to move, though each year's frost forces it up a little higher


Rachel Fox said...

It's not just that it's's that sometimes we want to see what's down there...and then others...oh no, please, anything but that!

Roxana said...

it is a terrible, a terrifying truth. and nobody can get rid of it, of this confrontation and need of it. thank you for posting this.

swiss said...

i was thinking about this earlier today when i was on the phone to my mum, who finds my advancing age most amusing. i keep meaning to record them, to preserve their voices at least.

but then i look at the stack of notebooks in my study and it all feels very transient. with any luck i'll end up like my mum, full of conversation about cutlery and jam, seemingly unbothered...