Bacopa Literary Review

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good, Sometimes Great Writers

by Bacopa Literary Review Fiction Editor U.R. Bowie 

Passages from the Writings of Good, Sometimes Great Writers (continued)

"She felt a single drop of sweat slip from the small of her back, hang for an instant, and then slide into the mellow groove between the flexed jaws of her buttocks" (Harry Crews, A Feast of Snakes).

"A vast strand of white fleece, brutally bright, moved south to north in the eastern vault of the heavens, a rush of splendid wool to warm the day" (William Kennedy, Ironweed).

"joyfully gazing out from behind the cobblestone barrier are white crosses and monuments, which hide in the greenery of cherry trees and look from afar like white spots . . . . when the cherry trees bloom these white spots blend with the cherry blossoms to form a broad seascape of white; and when the fruit ripens the white monuments and crosses are bedizened with specks that are blood-scarlet in color" (Anton Chekhov, "The Steppe"). [Chekhov's tone-poem novella, "The Steppe," full of such brilliant nature descriptions, was much influenced by his friend, the wonderful landscape painter Levitan.]

"You know, I have an uncle who's a country priest, and the man is such a believer that when, in time of drought, he goes out into the field to pray for rain, he takes with him an umbrella and leather raincoat, so that on the way back home he won't get soaked" (Chekhov, "The Duel").
"there was something wooden about his walk, something like the walk of toy soldiers, the way he barely bent his knees and tried to make each stride as long as possible" (Chekhov, "The Steppe:). [Chekhov loved describing how people walk. Tolstoy, who loved Chekhov when he met him, marveled at the way Chekhov himself walked. "He has the walk of a little miss of the noble class," said Tolstoy with delight.] 

"in sadness there is some alloy of pleasure. There is some shadow of delicacy and quaintness which smileth and fawneth upon us, even in the lap of melancholy . . . . Painters are of the opinion that the motions and wrinkles in the face which serve to weep serve also to laugh" (Michel de Montaigne, "We Taste Nothing Purely").

[Desdemona, reveling in the stores Othello tells her about his adventurous life] "She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange; 'twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful. She wished she had not heard it; yet she wished that heaven had made her such a man" (Shakespeare, "Othello").

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