That’s the great American story [laughs]. It complies with the story of immigrants who came through Ellis Island: they were nobodies—half-human somehow. They had potential, but of course they couldn’t do anything with it over there, because it wasn’t America, so they came here, and suddenly they bloomed.
I don’t know the numbers, but roughly half of the people who came through Ellis Island returned home. They came here to make money, not to make history.
“On the day of our wedding, on some now-distant beach, my wife had sworn herself to me with ease and in faith, and I did likewise for her: Together we made the longest promises, vowed them tight, and it was so easy to do this then, to speak the provided words, when we did not know what other harder choices would necessarily follow as we made our first life together in a new city, and then again after we left that country and journeyed to the dirt, this plot stationed so far from the other side of the lake, from the mountains beyond the lake, on whose distant slopes we had once dwelled in the land of our parents, where perhaps there still perches that platform where we stood to speak our vows.
How terrible we must have seemed that day, when together we were made to believe our marriage would then and always be celebrated, by ceremony and by feasting, by the right applause of a hundred kith and kin. And then later how we were terrible again, upon this far lonelier shore, where when we came we came alone.”
Recommended Reading: Guernica’s excerpt from Matt Bell’s upcoming novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
I think of writing anything, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, as almost like writing a piece of music. You have to hit the pitch correctly. Part of the very beginning of something is finding what those first sounds will be. And that helps guide you through the rest of it, whatever it is.
Six feet tall and arms like bundled wire. He go strutting the length of the house. Bottle cap pried up with his long bad teeth, spitting tin and blood in the trashcan and turning to put that sweet mouth on me, saying, Heart, come closer. Come here. Loving in your wolfish, in your wicked.
I’ve known you and known you and known you. For always all cramped up in your bedroom like little. See this: this marks the sixteenth August what you told me it’s too toxic to go outside.
“There now,” the man murmured. Then he turned toward me for the first time and smiled.
The tiger’s ears drooped and its tongue rolled from its mouth. It began to drool. With its last remaining strength, it pushed closer to the old man.
“There now,” the man repeated, wrapping his arms around the tiger’s neck and rubbing his cheek against its face.
The roses swayed in the hot breeze. Tiny insects danced above the lawn. Spray from the fountain misted down on us.
- “The Last Hour of the Bengal Tiger” by Yoko Ogawa
Freud did some serious damage to American literature.