Sunday, February 25, 2007

passages

And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in a prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes part of. we die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography -- to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth as had no maps.

-from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient


Even in old age, she recurs. I still dream about Claire at least twice a year. How amazing for a thing as vaporous as desire to survive against all the depredations of time, becoming, at its worst, a sad reminder that life mostly fails us. In some dreams she is just a fragrance. Sometimes lavender and sometimes clove and cinnamon, but also another scent dear to my heart. During those two summers, Claire had the habit of absentmindedly wiping her pen nib on her skirts, most of which were dark blue, so the only trace of her habit was the faint odor of ink around her.

-from Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons


Later evening addendum: I just discovered that Michael Ondaatje has a new novel coming out in May: Divisadero.

And, Ian McEwan has one coming out as well: On Chesil Beach.

Things to look forward to, for sure.

2 comments:

Jason said...

Love that second passage...

"How amazing for a thing as vaporous as desire to survive against all the depredations of time, becoming, at its worst, a sad reminder that life mostly fails us."

What a powerful line...

billie said...

He has so many of them in his two novels.

Glad you like this one.

billie