Skill alone cannot teach or produce a great short story, which condenses the obsession of the creature; it is a hallucinatory presence manifest from the first sentence to fascinate the reader, to make him lose contact with the dull reality that surrounds him, submerging him in another that is more intense and compelling.
A certain yearning attached itself between us. I wanted to participate in what was happening to him. It was just a careless, instinctive thing. There was nothing of his I wanted in particular. I wanted it all.
[She had] a cascade of black hair you could have woven thirty days of nights from.
It’s not like there’s some perfect moment of some perfect evening when you go: That. That was it. That was living, and it doesn’t get any better, and now I can die.
I was at the height of my powers then. Eat twenty-five black beauties in three days and you will know what I’m talking about.
I slowly understood what it is to be a man for a certain type of high-strung, successful, and thin woman: you are an avatar of capability, like a living Swiss Army knife.
First we did molly, lay on the thick carpet touching it, ourselves, one another. We did edibles, bathed dumbly in the sun, took naps on suede couches. Later, we did blow off the keys to ecologically responsible cars. We powdered glass tables and bathroom fixtures. We ate mushrooms - ate and waited, ate and waited. Then we just ate, emptied the Ziplocs into our mouths like chip bags. We smoked cigarettes and joints, sucked on lozenges lacquered in hash oil. We tried one another’s benzos and antivirals, Restoril, Avodart, YAZ, and Dexedrine, looking for contraindications. We ate well: cassoulets, steak frites, squid-ink risotto with porcini, spices from Andhra Pradesh, Kyoto, Antwerp. Of course we drank, too: pure agaves, rye whiskeys, St-Germain, old Scotch. We spent our hot December afternoons next to the custom saltwater pool or below the parasols of palm fronds, waiting, I suppose, to feel at peace, to baptize our minds in an enforced nullity, to return to a place from which we could begin again.
That world! These days it’s all been erased and they’ve rolled it up like a scroll and put it away somewhere. Yes, I can touch it with my fingers. But where is it?
She wanted to tell him, ‘there is no week that passed that I did not think of you,” but was that true? Of course there were weeks during which he was folded under layers of her life, but it felt true.
I realized that if I ever have children, I don’t want them to have American childhoods. I don’t want them to say ‘Hi’ to adults, I want them to say ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good afternoon.’ I don’t want them to mumble ‘Good’ when somebody says ‘How are you?’ to them. Or to raise five fingers when asked how old they are. I want them to say ‘I’m fine, thank you’ and ‘I’m five years old.’ I don’t want a child who feeds on praise and expects a star for effort and talks back to adults in the name of self-expression.
Memories of him so easily invaded her mind; she would, in the middle of a meeting at an advertising agency, remember Obinze pulling out an ingrown hair on her chin with tweezers, her faceup on a pillow, and him very close and very keen in examination. Each memory stunned her with its blinding luminosity. Each brought with it a sense of unassailable loss, a great burden hurtling towards her, and she wished she could duck, lower herself so it would bypass her, so that she would save herself. Love was a kind of grief. This was what the novelists meant by suffering.