Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michelle Orange and Madame Bovary

I am re-reading The Sicily Papers by Michelle Orange. It is about her trip to Italy, and is told through letters she writes to her friend. Her experience is sparse and poetic in that her prose avoids the usual tourist-y descriptions of place and atmosphere. Her activities seem dreamy and ephemeral, yet this this view of Italy is enchanting and seductive in its nearness to a simplified reality and only seems unreal in comparison to American life. She makes friends with people she meets in town because in Italy, people do not automatically distrust one another perhaps.
In particular, I loved this bit she included from Madame Bovary. It so perfectly describes why I write:
"Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars."

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