• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Want to Know What Love Is


easy-nirvana-song-to-play-on-acoustic-guitarWhat makes a writer turn to fiction vs. non-fiction? To poetry? Is it something internal or outside influences? How does the imagination form? For me, in high school, when I discovered poetry it was like being understood for the first time. And I barely understood what I was reading. I think it was like the way music makes sense to some people.

Do you know what I mean?

8 Responses

  1. I chose fiction — or chose to be chosen by it — to have the freedom to write true stories. When I started I was eleven. I barely knew anything other than I wanted to write stories. I didn’t know how. It was a way of getting revenge on life. I knew that, even then. I would not be denied my revenge.

    Poetry happened to me when I was seventeen because . . . I was seventeen? Because it was like hooking up a new power source to my writing, lighting up lights and completing circuits I didn’t know were there? Because I was stoned most of the time and my world had shattered and it was a way to cope? Because I didn’t know what I was doing? Because I needed to?

    Same with fiction, same as it’s ever been — because I needed to.

  2. I can let loose in my fiction, plus it’s a great place to hide. You make stuff up while telling the truth, which is ironic & confusing all at once. And fun.

  3. Bipolar/schizophrenia runs in my family. I have a relative who wore a scarf “to keep her brains in” when she was sick. Madness made everything become metaphorical. Thank god I’m only a poet.

  4. Once upon a time I dug deep and wrote poetry.

    But I’m going to shout out for creative nonfiction. Not that I don’t love fiction. I do. I just don’t have characters floating around in my head. (I sooner have dance steps in choreographed bumps and grinds to any kind of music in my ear buds. I’ve been known to pirouette down the street to Rihanna like an idiot.) And my own life is basically so uncolorfully and thankfully normal that a memoir wouldn’t compel a first grader.

    But to capture other people (and their mixed-up and/or peculiar and/or extraordinary lives) is to turn words into a palette of paints, and then to delectably choose which colors work the work into a photo, a painting, a portrait, a landscape, a story. I’m thinking Gay Talese and Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe. Daniel James Brown. Erik Larson.

  5. In northern Oregon quite a few decades back, the Dalles Dam was built on the Columbia River, flooding an ancient Native American fishing area called Celilo Falls. Not only did the people of the area lose a big part of their heritage, but they were relocated as well. Ken Kesey was there and witnessed the aftermath of a Native American man who, apparently drunk, ran out onto the highway with a knife between his teeth and squared off with an oncoming semi. In an interview with Robert Faggen in the Paris Review (Spring 1994) titled Ken Kesey, the Art of Fiction (No. 136), Kesey said the man’s death influenced “the notion that you have to pay for a lifestyle.” The incident was the seed that, coupled with LSD and working in a mental institution, sprouted into One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Man, I miss that dude.

  6. I’ve always read/enjoyed primarily fiction. I remember reading The Yearling when I was 11. I read The Exorcist at 13. I used to read anything that had a cover with a good stack of pages in between. Fantasy, romance, horror, anything. It’s not that way today. I’m pickier, but my discovery and love is Southern Fiction. (imagine)

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