A good line

Leon

The New Quarterly contained a story with a line that made me hurl the magazine across the living room. However it also had a short story I didn’t see on first pass because it was on the page facing the cursed line. The cursed line said this: “Old-woman smell infiltrated the house, perfume and powder.” Who are these snotty scentless people who write so disparagingly of their elders? Never mind. The editors redeemed themselves as I shall explain. I was between books and craved a smackerel of good words in pleasing order to digest. I retrieved the Winter 2018 edition of The New Quarterly from the carpet where it landed when flung, and it folded open fortuitously to a story called Moccasins Over Stones by Laura Schwager.

It is the kind of story you must place in your lap from time to time, to allow yourself a moment to think. You lay it face down with its wings spread wide and its words tickling your thighs because you read a line that whisks you into a memory:

Her stories gave me roots, and no matter what had been taken in the middle of my growing up, I wanted to believe there was something more.

You know sometimes when you swallow and you can feel the gob of saliva travel from your throat, knock open the flap in your esophagus and splash into your gut? Or when you’re outside on a hot summer day and there’s a thunderstorm a brewin’ and you swear you hear the first thick drop bounce on the hot pavement forming a tiny fountain? And then rain as thick as chain mail clatters around you and you run for cover because you’re about to get soaked or struck by lightning or both? That’s how that line felt to me.

The line pushed me to my desk to write about an episode from long ago that suddenly needed telling. So in part I loved this story for being a catalyst and for pulling on something that needed releasing. Laura Schwager’s story touched and lifted me at the same time. Isn’t that the mark of a good storyteller and a marvelous story? I think so.

TNQ

32 thoughts on “A good line

    • Hi CN, I was born in Prince Rupert, grew up in Comox, went to Memorial University of Newfoundland (long story), and now live in Ottawa. I’m a pan-Canadian woman but the truth is you can take the girl out of the rainforest but you can’t take the rainforest out of the girl.

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          • I think at the moment, that’s all there is. I’m not sure. We just revamped the blog. I’ll have to ask my son. He does the updating. I can’t see that well. I spend most of my time in the back end where the writing is done lol.

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          • I can’t say I blame you. It’s become a gripe fest and a he said she said to get my side of the story out first. Fortunately, I have only gardeners and family on mine and a few ppl that play games on fb. Although the gaming part is coming to an end. FB is adding ads which are too annoying for words. Ok, in that case, the RS feed follows me.

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          • The only other way to follow would be to subscribe to the mailing list, and you’ll be informed each post. Since I’m updating Blindsided (written on location, Vancouver Island) you may be interested in following the story. All but Phase Shift are written about the Island as it was my home for 30 years. Still is, but I took a detour with this book. lol Hope your enjoying a wonderful weekend.

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  1. I totally agree and fervently hope my storytelling sometimes inspires others to go beyond themselves into themselves…that would be divine for me.
    Your words inspire me to the heights and depths and breadths my soul can reach, Susanne.
    (Forgive my borrowing from Browning.)

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    • Hi old friend! Nice to see you again. I read your post and you’ve been busy writing your memoir. I went to the library to look for the book you recommended but they don’t have it. Looks like I’ll have to buy it. Kudos to you to finishing. I’ve only just begun and in a very tentative way. Good luck to you in the revision process.

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  2. This is what it means to be moved and transported by storytelling: since encountering Laura Schwager words, you’re in a different place than you were before you read her story. I love it!

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  3. Although an open periodical has never tickled my thighs, I know I’ll be thinking of it doing so the next time I read one. Priceless! You do come up with tactile, olfactory stimulating, unforgettable prose. And chain mail rain? Smashing! I just love it when you show up in my inbox!

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  4. Your descriptions are always so rich and almost tangible. “Rain as thick as chain mail” … yes, that describes exactly the kind of rain we had last night as I tried to sleep.

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    • Thank you, Kerry. I think its practice and patience. Sometimes there’s nothing and other times lots. Those times when there’s nothing, I try not to worry about it.

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  5. Oh dear. I wrote a similar line over the summer.
    My theory is that our own elders smell familiar and comforting, other people’s elders, well…

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    • That smell begins with hormonal changes around the age of 40 in both men and women and is called nonenal. It is an inoffensive scent according to studies. My theory is that people are,in general, offended by the presence of older people as they remind them of their fate.

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