Joy Williams’ recent release, VENUS, received lukewarm reviews. Rolling Stone claimed Williams’ voice couldn’t “hold the space” of her orchestration. NPR, not unkindly, labeled the album “Lilith Fair 90s‘.”
Flannery O’Connor said her fiction was concerned with “the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil,” and that “violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace” and that “[a]ll human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.” So it can be nothing like news—though it is thrilling—to discover, as several of my high school students did in tandem during class discussions in September, that the color of bruising marks O’Connor’s “Revelation,” the story of the essential humbling of a certain Mrs. Turpin.
. . . But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, King, husband— that is quite another matter.
—C.S. Lewis, Miracles
Christmas: God breaking the Second Law of Thermodynamics to snatch the cosmos from its ultimate decay. In other words, a miracle of upward mobility. The Orthodox icon of the Nativity teems with the theology and symbolism of this upswirl, this “redemption of the universe:” the ascending pull of light over the landscape; the bright celestials straddling the razor edge between time and eternity; the ethnic diversity of the Magi, God’s redemptive scope encompassing all peoples and all creation. And in the postures of Mary and Joseph we see the full gamut of human response to this event that couldn’t happen, yet did.
“I have never stopped considering not becoming a writer.” — Joshua Ferris
A woman I barely knew once asked me what I would be if I weren’t a writer. The list was not a prepared one, but it flowed with that sort of ease. In fact, I had, and have, no trouble thinking of other things I’d could spend my time and emotional energy doing. The list ranges from the realistic (a dancer), to the unlikely (a CIA agent), to the completely ridiculous (a house cat).
Writing is an act I do alone. In my home office before anyone is awake (just as now). In my school office between course prep, grading, and the dozens of other tasks that demanded my attention. Even at one of my local coffee shops, when others are present, I’m still by myself. Solitude is my preferred working method.