Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The pink jewel of her own brain.

Like the character Pansy Vanneman in her electrifying story "The Interior Castle," [Jean] Stafford became an ironic spectator of her own ruined life. In the story, as surgery looms, Pansy lies alone in her hospital bed gazing with numb icy clarity at the pink jewel of her own brain: "the physical organ itself which she envisaged, romantically, now as a jewel, now as a flower, now as a light in a glass, now as an envelope of rosy vellum containing other envelopes."

- David Laskin, Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal among the New York Intellectuals
I feel very stuck in bed, staring at my brain across the room, coveting it, dreaming of how great my life would be if only that thing was in my head. While stuck, I have been reading Partisans and it is outrageous and rivaling maybe my favorite literary biography, the Talented Ms. Highsmith. This is hard to do because that book has this in it.

I had occasion to speak of Beth Evans at Anobium this week. If she charged for her wares, I would spend. This week's Outer Space exploded with good news. Check it all out - everything! Karen Lillis posted my year-end list of five small press titles beyond worth buying. They are frothingly worth it. But the list is not comprehensive. I also wrote about money at Very Literary. Also not comprehensive. Look at my brain over there, fogging up the glass it's under.

I am still breaking myself of the habit of writing research papers when I am to be writing small things. I still get weird about small things. I don't have the mental wherewithal for a big thing. I underestimate the bigness of what I'm doing offscreen, of course. I am six and three stories, respectively, into two short story series projects. They're ravishingly muscular things. Sinewy. My novel project is like a plain full of nerve endings and badly needs a skin grafted in order for me to work on it better, to be more attendant to its needs. My novella's a fistful of hair.

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