No, I don't mean the Saturday that's Ian McEwan's novel, though it's really rather good and you should probably read that, though not at the expense of reading Atonement, which is just amazingly good. The forthcoming film version looks to be good as well, and you could perhaps use that as the impetus to read the book. Go on, then.
But, like I said, I didn't mean the McEwan book.
I meant Saturday the day of the week Saturday.
Which came like a dawn.
But if I didn't write to write about that book, I am writing to write about another book. As previously noted, I hate Miranda July because she's a successful and innovative visual artist, and makes and stars in movies that win awards at Cannes, and now has written a book of stories that everyone loves. What's not to hate?
Well, I just made the mistake of actually reading the collection, which is called No One Belongs Here More Than You, and which has this enormously winning web site.
And now I'm in the awkward position of having to love Miranda July at the same time as I hate her.
In a word: she's the real deal. Fiction-wise, she's the real article.
I don't intend writing any kind of proper review (here's one), or even précis. But I do want to say that these stories are breathtaking. They are spare: every sentence is on the job, doing something powerful. And, more than being very, very good, it's and I do hate to borrow a phrase about writing from a movie about writing, though I just remembered that the movie was actually based on a book about writing it's also true. It's very funny, if you care about that. But mainly it's true. Her stories are true.
Miranda July, I hate (and love) you. (*)
I'd say that perhaps maybe you should go read her now.
It rained yesterday. And rained and rained and rained. It had been flooding before, but not here. Half of Yorkshire was underwater, but that's what they get for putting their big cities on well-known flood plains. But London flooded last night.
The Underground in particular flooded. I guess, come to consider it, that's pretty much the main thing about it, is that it's underground. Anyway, I learned at work that the Circle Line was shut, the District Line was basically kaput and even the Piccadilly Line was experiencing delays. Those are the three ways I can get home below ground.
But the prospect of getting on a deep line (Central), then having to change, onto an even deeper line (Piccadilly), both of which were going to be mobbed with flood-dodging commuters, and then only to experience delays . . . well, it called to mind the fact that I can also actually get home above ground. It was a lovely night, and I walked.
When I ran this morning, in Hyde Park, I ran by a pond that wasn't supposed to be there, or at any rate hadn't ever been there before. And it had an egret standing in it.
Dub dub dub.
And Saturday came like a dawn.
"I pressed my lips against his ear and whispered again, It's not your fault. Perhaps this was really the only thing I had ever wanted to say to anyone, and be told."
"Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person's face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street, and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing."
"Sometimes I lie in bed trying to decide which of my friends I truly care about, and I always come to the same conclusion: none of them. I thought these were just my starter friends and the real ones would come along later. But no. These are my real friends."
"I looked at Pip and for a split second I felt as though she was nobody special in the larger scheme of my life. She was just some girl who had tied me to her leg to help her sink when she jumped off the bridge. Then I blinked and was in love with her again."
"It was a scam. There was nothing in the world that was not a con, suddenly I understood this. Nothing really mattered, and nothing could be lost."
"I hated my job, but I liked that I could do it. I had once believed in a precious inner self, but now I didn't. I had thought that I was fragile, but I wasn't."
"I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life inventing complicated ways to depress myself, now that I had finished my book."
"I'm not saying I asked for it, only that there are moments when we are sending signals not just to the boys in the room but to all of creation."
"But when I rubbed his dying arms, I felt something tremendously fast in them, a gathering of speed. So much of him was already quick, and yet he still had to die in obscenely slow motion because this is what humans do."
"What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real."
"Each day I wondered what would happen next. What happens when you stop wanting, when you are happy. I supposed I would go on being happy forever. I knew I would not mess things up by growing bored. I had done that once before."
"But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us. She seemed to have room for me; she never turned away in the pauses that allow for turning away. She never inquired, but she never recoiled, either. This is a quality I look for in a person, not recoiling. Some people need a red carpet rolled out in front of them in order to walk forward into friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them, everywhere, like leaves on trees."
"When she saw my messy desk, she said she was the same way, and there was no dust on the TV, and I was easy to love. People just need a little help because they are so used to not loving."
"She marvelled at this, and I laughed and said, Life is easy. What I meant was, Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again."
"I went to work the next day out of curiosity, as people return to their villages after the war to see what is left."
"I looked at his sleeve as if it were his face. It had not occurred to me that it would get this bad, that indignity would dance upon bloodshed."
"There was no apology in her eyes, no love or caring. But she saw me, I existed, and this lifted the beams off my shoulders. It takes so little."
"On the eighth day of the rest of my life, I began to wonder if this was really the rest of my life or just a continuation of the same one. I had so little to go on."
"Only winners will know what this feels like. Have you ever wanted something very badly and then gotten it? Then you know that winning is many things, but it is never the thing you thought it would be."
"It was a small thing, but it was a thing, and things have a way of either dying or growing, and it wasn't dying. Years went by. They wordlessly excused each other for not loving each other as much as they had planned to."
"As she slept in my arms, I found I could only think thoughts that were cosmological in scale. I considered the round ball of the sun, the food cycle, and time itself, which seemed miraculous and poignant. I curled my whole body around her."
"Inelegantly and without my consent, time passed."