Sep. 6th, 2011


Can she be more plaintive? "I couldn’t forget anything he’d ever said to me. That’s how it was."

A writer's progress:
  • Finally Anderson sat down at his desk and wrote Ernest letters of introduction to several of the famous expatriates he’d recently met and gotten friendly with, including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Sylvia Beach.
  • When he craved contact, he stopped in to visit the Cézannes and Monets at the Musée du Luxembourg, believing they had already done what he was striving for—distilling places and people and objects to their essential qualities.
  • To walk the best streets in Paris just then was like having the curtained doors of a surreal circus standing open so you could watch the oddity and the splendor at any hour.
  • My mother was mildly notorious for a time as the mistress of William Butler Yeats. That’s how I met Ezra,
  • “Pound says he’ll teach me how to write if I teach him how to box.”
  • Ernest was a good student. He devoured everything, working his way through eight or ten books at once, putting one down and picking another up, leaving tented spines all over the apartment.
War, past & present:
  • He front ran all the way to the English Channel, there were men who got short furlough to go home for tea. They’d come back again and pick up their bayonets and gas masks and get to it, still tasting biscuit.
  • “Looks like a barracks, doesn’t it?” Chink said, stepping forward to rap at the imposing wooden door. “You’d make a barracks of any old thing,”
  • ...each of us loving him without question—and the strawberries, too. The wine and the sunshine and the warm stones under our feet. He wanted everything there was to have, and more than that.
  • When Ernest found the slope where he’d been wounded, it was green and unscarred and completely lovely. Nothing felt honest.
  • Time was unreliable and everything dissolved and died—even or especially when it looked like life. Like spring.
  •  ...the horses parting around the fallen animal, the favorite taking everything he hadn’t earned.
  • He hid under the pier at Smyrna for most of a day and a night, the water up to his chest sometimes. It was the mussels on the footings of the pier that cut his hand and arm when the tide came in and pushed him against the hard shells.
  • It’s one of the things war does to you. Everything you see works to replace moments and people from your life before, until you can’t remember why any of it mattered.
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