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"At Grandma’s funeral, my dad, her son, read a poem by Ted Kooser. Kooser is from Nebraska and so is my dad, and I was born in Omaha. “You asked me if I would be sad when it happened,” Kooser writes, “and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house / now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots / green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner.” When I first read that poem, my brain tripped again -- on their roots; isn’t “iris” singular? Isn’t there just one flower? But no, I realized it could go either way. Then the poem filled with flowers."
"'Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls /Are level with the waters, there shall be /A cry of nations o'er thy sunken halls, /A loud lament along the sweeping sea! If I, a northern wanderer, weep for thee...'
There is indeed a long history outside Venice, dating back to Lord Byron, of getting a romantic frisson out of the thought that so much beauty might die. But Italians are less romantics than cynics and I have often heard them say that the city has been so ruined by tourism that no one discriminating would want to have anything to do with it now and the Venetians are so feeble and few that there is no hope. That is perhaps an even more destructive attitude."
"What is sacrifice in Leviticus? It involves an isolation of a very particular part to stand for the dynamic whole, and a cutting into something to show how it works as part of that whole. It entails dismemberment for the sake of its opposite -- re-membrance, putting the world together anew, or with renewed vitality. It gives us the visceral, tactile, and choreographed record of the rites of mediation, of a mediacy that will yield the sense and sensory experience of immediacy."
"One of my experiences as a fat woman -- I explored this in my previous novel, Venus of Chalk -- is that I am frequently accused (with concern, with disgust, with compassion, with alarm, directly, as part of a group, yelled out of car windows) of choosing to hasten my own death. Sometimes I feel as if fat people are being asked to shoulder fears and anxiety about mortality for a large percentage of contemporary U.S. culture, and beyond. So the gravestones didn't remind me of my own mortality more than I'm reminded by, say, watching an ordinary news broadcast, but they offered these excellent invitations to a way back to reflecting on mortality through the concerns of another time. I accepted the invitation, and found it to be profoundly rewarding."
Sarah Van Arsdale
"I wrote American Psychosis because I am appalled at the current disaster of public mental health services in this country, and I wanted to put it into historical perspective, both for myself and for others. Deinstitutionalization was a success for approximately half of the patients who left the state hospitals. They were the ones who were less severely ill, who had family resources and support to help, and who were aware of their illness and the need to continue to take the medication needed to control their symptoms. It is the other half of the patients I am writing about in American Psychosis."
"Most writers now make me want to smash my head against the wall. I find them really dull. I hate going to readings, and I hate doing readings. I don't enjoy the whole mechanism of the reading circuit of showing up in some bookstore. I always sit there and think, "Who the fuck wants to see someone read out of a book?" I try to think of writing more in terms of music; I always want to write a story that is as compact and perfect as The Ramones' first album. I don't put myself in competition with Dubliners, you know. If I am thinking about trying to set a mood I will think about music. A big inspiration on a lot of my books was Berlin by Lou Reed. Just the mood of it was perfect."