"She talked in and out of the movie, as if its enlarged characters were fragments escaped from her head and willfully acting out on their own, assuming the perfect narrative forms they were denied in life. It was like somebody in church repeating and affirming the minister’s sermon in noises and half syllables."
— Veronica, a novel by Mary Gaitskill
"All the meat of truth was hidden under a dry surface, and so we tore off the surface with a shout. We wanted to have everything revealed and made articulate, everything, even our greatest embarrassments and lusts."
— Veronica, a novel by Mary Gaitskill
"A profound sense of strangeness slowly began to posses me. I knew my two companions were not, in any way, as other men, the simian retainer and the master for whom he spoke, the one with clawed forepaws who was in a plot with the witches who let the winds out of their knotted handkerchiefs up towards the Finnish border. I knew they lived according to a different logic than I had done until my father abandoned me to the wild beasts by his human carelessness. This knowledge gave me a certain fearfulness still; but, I would say, not much … I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves, in all their unreason. If I could not see one single soul in all that wilderness of desolation all around me, then the six of us - mounts and riders, both - could boast among us not one soul, either, since all the best religions in the world state categorically that not beasts nor women were equipped with the flimsy insubstantial things when the good Lord opened the gates of Eden and let Eve and her familiars tumble out. Understand, then, that though I would not say I privately engaged in a metaphysical speculation as we rode through the reedy approaches to the river, I certainly mediated on the nature of my own state, how I had been bought and sold, passed from hand to hand. That clockwork girl who powdered my cheeks for me; had I not been allotted only the same kind of imitative life amongst men that the doll-maker had given her?"
— from “The Tiger’s Bride” by Angela Carter (Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories)
"Lately I find myself interested in trying to find a way of representing consciousness that’s fast and entertaining but also accurate, and accounts, somewhat, for that vast, contradictory swirl of energy we call “thought,” and its relation to that other entity, completely unstable and mutable, that we put so much stock in and love so dearly, “the self.” That is, of course, an impossible task, the mind being so vast and prose being so inadequate. But it seems to me a worthy goal: try to create a representation of consciousness that’s durable and truthful, i.e., that accounts, somewhat, for all the strange, tiny, hard-to-articulate, instantaneous, unwilled things that actually go on in our minds in the course of a given day, or even a given moment."
From The New Yorker’s This Week In Fiction: George Saunders, October 2011
Read “Tenth of December” for an astonishing arc of deliriously good prose.
She sat like a second frog on the edge of the fountain, hunched over her hunger, until the clock clicked to an impossibly late hour and she was alone. She rolled up her jeans and stepped into the water. She felt along the bottom with her feet until she came upon a coin, and dipped her arm up to her shoulder, but almost all the change was glued to the tile. By the time she had gone entirely around, she had gathered only a small handful. When she peered at them in the dim light from the street lamp, she found they were mostly pennies. Still, she went around again. She saw herself from a great distance, a woman stooping in knee-deep water for someone else’s wishes.
Most days, she found food—bread and bruised fruit—heaped, clean, in a dumpster behind a specialty grocer. She hid the station wagon at the far end of a supermarket parking lot, next to a retainer pool and shielded by the low branches of a camphor tree. The smell entered her dreams at night and she’d wake to a slow green sway of branches, as if underwater. There was a Baudelaire poem this reminded her of, but it had been erased from her memory. She wondered what else was gone—the Goethe, the Shakespeare, the Montale. The sun was bleaching it all to dust; her hunger was eating it up. It was a cleansing, she decided. If pretty words couldn’t save her, then losing them, too, was all for the best.
Lauren Groff, “Above and Below” (The New Yorker, Summer Fiction 2011)