Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brautigan's Scarlatti Tilt

How about a short short story?

I know Hemingway is said to have claimed that his best short story went like this: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." While this seems to be a more or less truthful anecdote, this kind of strikingly short way of expression has spawned a movement of six word stories and other kinds of flash fiction. In Norway, a book called "Du trenger ikke mer enn 6" ("You don't need more than 6") has been published - no doubt inspired by the Hemingway-anecdote.

This really isn't my area of expertise, but I immediately thought of a short short story by Richard Brautigan, brilliantly named "The Scarlatti Tilt":

"'It's very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who's learning to play the violin.' That's what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver."

And that's it!
It's perhaps not too difficult to write stories in a fragmental way which the reader has to put together to a kind of meaningful web, but more interesting, I find, to write short short stories with a point or plot. These kinds of stories share the structure with the riddle or joke, but are still something different.
A short short post on a long long Sunday.

Monday, November 02, 2009

e.e.cummings: i carry your heart with me

I just had to put out this poem by e.e.cummings. For a few days, the opening lines have pounded through me -- not like a mantra -- but with its very own, strong rhythm. What strikes me so, I think, is a combination of an almost naïve serenading of the I's beloved and the amount of courage it takes to stitch such simple, open words to the world's most terrifying experience: that of being in love. And then to publish the poem in all its straightforwardness - stout heart, mr. cummings-bard!

The imagery of the poem is clear and almost concretely solid, with its sun and moon, fate, soul and tree of life. Almost like the illustrations of a childrens's book.

"I carry your heart with me I carry it in my heart" - such simple but strangely strong words. The repetitiveness and the insistence on the word heart beats through the whole poem and contributes to the archetypal imagery which makes up this poem's stem, its own tree of life.
The last sentence (before the first sentence is repeated) is liberatingly expansive. The sun and air and immense black space of existence always gushes in through my chest when I read this. That the power of our own care and love is the strength which keeps the stars apart - what a freeing thought.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)