I finished Rebecca Solnit's memoir/autobiography/meditation The Faraway Nearby yesterday, and it has a number of great quotes, mainly about storytelling and the importance of story in our lives. If you like such ideas, you should read her book. It is well worth the time. Here are some of the best quotes:
“What’s your story? It’s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.”
“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or to hate, to see or to be blind. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then to become the storyteller.”
“Memory, even in the rest of us, is a shifting, fading, partial thing, a net that doesn’t catch all the fish by any means and sometimes catches butterflies that don’t exist.”
“Difficulty is always a school, though learning is optional.”
“Where does a story begin? The fiction is that they do, and end, rather than that the stuff of a story is just a cup of water scooped from the sea and poured back in it.”
“We are all the heroes of our own stories, and one of the arts of perspective is to see yourself small on the stage of another’s story, to see the vast expanse of the world that is not about you, and to see your power, to make your life, to make others, or break them, to tell stories rather than be told by them.”
“The self is also a creation, the principal work of your life, the crafting of which makes everyone an artist. This unfinished work of becoming ends only when you do, if then, and the consequences live on. We make ourselves and in so doing are the gods of the small universe of self and the large world of repercussions.”
“Books are solitudes in which we meet.”
“We all live in that world of images and stories, and most of us are damaged by some version of it, and if we’re lucky, find others or make better ones that embrace and bless us.”
“Time always wins; our victories are only delays; but delays are sweet, and a delay can last a whole lifetime.”
“Time itself is our tragedy and most of us are fighting some kind of war against it.”
“Of course I had always been mortal, but not quite so emphatically so.”
“In movies and novels, people change suddenly and permanently, which is convenient and dramatic but not much like life, where you gain distance on something, relapse, resolve, try again, and move along in stops, starts, and stutters. Change is mostly slow.”
“You choose to hear what corresponds to your desires, needs, and interests, and there are dangers in a world that corresponds too well, with curating your life into a mirror that reflects only the comfortable and familiar, and dangers in the opposite direction as well. Listen carefully.”
“The two jars [of apricots] before me are like stories written down; they preserve something that might otherwise vanish. Some stories are best let go, but the process of writing down and giving stories away fixes a story in its particulars, like the apricots fixed in their sweet syrup, and the tale then no longer belongs to the writer but to the readers. And what is left out is left out forever.”
“In the strongest stories we see ourselves, connected to each other, woven into the pattern, see that we are ourselves stories, telling and being told. Stories like yours and worse than yours are all around, and your suffering won’t mark you out as special, though your response to it might.”
“…you have to die a little to be reborn, and death comes first, the death of a story, a familiar version of yourself.”
“The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.”
“What if we only wanted openings, the immortality of the unfinished, the uncut thread, the incomplete, the open door, and the open sea?”
Wipf and Stock Publishers have accepted my third full-length collection, Liturgical Calendar: Poems, for their Resource Publications Imprint. They also published my memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and I loved working with them, so I'm looking forward to the next few months. My guess is that the book will come out in October or November.
Here's a brief synopsis, probably what will show up on the back of the book, just to give you an idea about the collection:
Using the structure of the liturgical calendar and the lives of the saints for inspiration, Kevin Brown explores not only faith, but subjects ranging from love to childhood to grammar to grace. The saints’ backgrounds serve as metaphors for our lives today, as we struggle with our mortality and our morality. In these poems, Brown is able to laugh at himself and his failings, while reminding us of our own. He points out where our various approaches to faith make us better people and where we fail to follow what we tell others to do. In these poems, the miraculous becomes ordinary, while ordinary events and people are imbued with the sacred, granting readers hope for themselves and the world.
Also, if you'd like to see some of the poems that will be in the collection, here are links to several you can find online:
"Free Love," published in Stickman Review
"Spiritual Exercises," published in Barely South Review
"Last Days," also in Barely South Review
"At Least I Kept My Kidneys," published in Mount Hope
"Mustering Storks," published in South85
Last, you can read a review of the chapbook, Holy Days, which forms the basis of this collection here.
I'll post more information when I find out more. Thanks for your support.
About This Blog
This blog is where I write about writing, list news and information about my writing life, and just generally reflect on life. My education-related blog can be found at No Brown-Nosing.