Issue 132 | May 2013
"When I went to Haiti for The Rainy Season I was really with the popular movement. With the people. Now I'm older. I don't really want to stay in the slums and walk through refuse. I also have a broader base of acquaintances. I hear from a wider spectrum of Haitians. I talk to business people now. In the old days I wouldn't bother to talk to them. I refused them. I rejected them. I wasn't interested. So in many ways, because of all the writing and traveling to Haiti I've done over the decades, I now have a better understanding. But yes, you become sentimental for your childhood. And then for your adolescence, and then your young adulthood, too. And that's Haiti for me. The place where I grew up and started to understand the world and its complications."
"When I try to picture men carrying a cover with a woman who looks like a child swimming in a pond, I don't see it. It's not that men are the arbiters of everything, but what I talked about in the piece was a book entering a cultural conversation, and that needs to be a coed conversation. Women are the buyers of fiction in this country, and we know that. I know writers who aren't concerned with this issue, because they know that their audience is women, and women love their work, and they're happy with that, and that's fine. I generally have women at my readings and I love these readers. But you have to ask yourself, Why will women read books about male characters and female characters, and men, with rare exception, won't? And that bothers me. So if your book looks like a women's and girls' book, even if it has something really startling in it, it's hard to get men to read it."
There is something Chatwin noticed in Bedford's writing and described as "millions and millions of people being tossed up and down the earth, trying vainly to connect but somehow being prevented from doing so." The lack of trust and goodwill between human beings -- manifested in A Visit to Don Otavio as taciturn customs agents and border guards -- is the recurring feature of the individual cases in The Faces of Justice, whether it's a petty theft or a café shoot-up or settling of the estates of people murdered in the Holocaust. It's something more precise than man's inhumanity to man; it's a betrayal of our most elemental bonds to one another.
"I think I was ushered into adulthood by a character called political violence, more than any one human being. Violence informed our views, they circumscribed our journeys, they dictated our relationships. The [Sri Lankan] anti-government uprisings that were put down in the mid-late 1980s and in which my brothers and their friends were caught, the way we grew afraid of our neighbors informing on us for political expediency, the death threats my father received over the years, the phones that were tapped, and through it all, this drawn-out war in which we were all (every disagreeing political faction), under the threat of suicide bombers from the LTTE. You live differently under such circumstances. You learn to expect bad news, to ask the question, 'Did anybody die?,' which is really asking, 'Did anybody we know die?' because, of course, somebody has died, many people have died, and though we mourn them, we are also instantly grateful not to have to mourn the ones we know well."
"I finished a draft I thought might work and was about to submit it to my editor when, on March 11, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit. Day after day, I watched the disaster unfold. It was terrifying. I have friends in Sendai, and relatives in Tokyo, and luckily they all escaped unharmed, but so many didn't. So many just vanished or lost everyone and everything. An event of that magnitude radically changes our understanding of time and being, exposing the impermanent and ephemeral nature of what we think of as reality. Suddenly, Japan was a different place, and the world was different, too, and I realized with painful clarity that in the face of this catastrophe, the book I'd written was irrelevant. I realized I needed to respond to it in a serious way. It took a few months, but in May I went back to work."
Teresa Burns Gunther
"All of the accoutrements of wedding culture are intended to make us feel hopeful and romantic, and they only create fear and insecurity. If you don't wear a tiara or a veil, you'll regret that. That kind of dumb romance distracts those getting married from the very unromantic reality of the situation. They are vowing to stay together till death! The focus should be on connection and disconnection, on what gives rise to each, on how to cope with stress, on the various ways love and desire do and do not intersect."
"In early 2009, I was laid off, along with thousands of other Americans, during what we now know as The Great Recession. At this same time, our government was spending roughly $2,600 per soldier per day in two wars, and men and women serving were still ill-equipped for battle and dying (along with civilians) every day. It was hard to reconcile these two things side-by-side: my country telling me to sit tight while I got laid off and that times would get better... meantime, the wars looked worse and worse, costing more and more."