I’ve always been a claustrophile, and I think that explains some of the appeal—the train is bounded, compartmentalized, and cozily small, like a carrel in a college library. Everything has its place. The towel goes on the ledge beneath the mirror; the sink goes into its hole in the wall; during the day, the bed, which slides down from overhead, slides up into a high pocket of space. There is comfort in the certainty of these arrangements. The journey is bounded, too: I know when it will end. Train time is found time. My main job is to be transported; any reading or writing is extracurricular. The looming pressure of expectation dissolves.
Indeed, in sharp contrast to their distant relations with boys, young women’s friendships were close, often frolicsome, and surprisingly long lasting and devoted. They wrote secret missives to each other, spent long solitary days with each other, curled up together in bed at night to whisper fantasies and secrets.
You are enough. Paint it on your mirrors, on the back of your eyelids, drown it in your stomach, sing it in every word you say. You are never too much. Eat your food, sleep eight hours, walk like you love yourself. You are enough. Say it in your sleep, mantras to carry you through your day. There is never enough of you. You are a thirst that is never quenched. I crave you when you’re away. I love every piece of you. But I cannot make you love yourself.
Don’t get me wrong: I love a nice bouncy rack. And if a show has something smart to say about sex, bring it on. But, after years of watching ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Ray Donovan,’ ‘House of Lies,’ and so on, I’ve turned prickly, and tired of trying to be, in the novelist Gillian Flynn’s useful phrase, the Cool Girl: a good sport when something smells like macho nonsense. And, frankly, ‘True Detective’ reeks of the stuff. The series, for all its good looks and its movie-star charisma, isn’t just using dorm-room deep talk as a come-on: it has fallen for its own sales pitch.
To state the obvious: while the male detectives of ‘True Detective’ are avenging women and children, and bro-bonding over ‘crazy pussy,’ every live woman they meet is paper-thin. Wives and sluts and daughters—none with any interior life.
In which Emily says what we always want to say: “DON’T TOUCH WOMEN AND DON’T TALK TO THEM. YOU’RE DRUNK. SHE DOESN’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU. DON’T TOUCH WOMEN AND DON’T TALK TO THEM.”
"The actual world is a kind of tedious plane where [the body] dwells, and goes to school, the boring body which houses the eyes to read the books and houses the heart the books enflame. The very boring body seems to require an inordinately big, very boring world to keep it up, a world where you have to spend far too much time, have to do time like a prisoner, always looking for a chance to slip away, to escape back home to books, or escape back home to any concentration - fanciful, mental, or physical- where you can lose your self at last.” Annie Dillard
A wealthy group of young people relax by a pool in California, 1940.
Photograph by J. Baylor Roberts, National Geographic
What made me be a writer was that I was a passionate reader. I began reading at a very, very early age, and I’ve been a reading junkie ever since – I read all the time. I probably spend more time reading than any other thing I’ve done in my life, including sleeping. I’ve spent many, many days of my life reading eight and ten hours a day, and there’s no day that I don’t read for hours, and don’t ask me how I can do all the other things – I don’t know. The day has pockets – you can always find time to read.
Reading set standards. Reading opened up to me all these norms, or – to put it in a more naive and probably truthful way – ideals. So that to be part of literature, to be even the humblest, lowest member of the great multitude of people who actually dare to put words on paper and publish them, seemed to me the most glorious thing one could do.
Now, in this sort of book-drunken life … in this relation to reading, which is where the writing comes – I didn’t discover I had a talent; I discovered I wanted … to emulate, to honor, by trying to do it myself, as well as continuing to read it and love it and be inspired by it.
And I mean this most passionately. That’s where the standards came from, that’s where the ideas came from of what was good, what was right, what was better, that there was always something better and whatever you could do was by definition not good enough. The only thing that was good was what was hard to do, what you had to work very hard to do, or what was better than anything you could do.
Writer, reader, journalist. 21.
I like road trips, reading everything, making lists and drinking beer on the front porch.
All these things I lived through—the strange and fugitive beauty of the desert and the mountains, the primitive realities, the sky and the sand, so easily dissolving in mysteries and visions. All the quiet common things of the earth I came to love, and the simple and useful human beings—life going on, going on.
— Ray Stannard Baker, American Chronicle