07 Feb

Swinging from the Rafters

From Jonathan Carroll’s generous introduction to Jeffrey Ford’s Empire of Ice Cream, one of my favorite story collections, a quote that punctuates our hunger for wonder and why we love stories that bring it. A context would be, kids say “Wow;” adults typically don’t (or it takes more to wow an adult), because we can’t run the world if we’re constantly in awe of it.

Yet we know that the imagination really is most alive when it is not in control of things, flying through the air without a safety net below to catch it. To live surrounded by wonder means the unknown and the dangerous also surround you as well.

It’s a great intro and a great book, and makes me love short stories and want to be a writer all over again. And there are stories here that I can adapt for bedtime telling. Tonight, my kids get to hear about the Twilmish who inhabit sand castles on the beach and only live as long as the castles survive the tide. I love being given a story I can retell with great pleasure, and can’t think of a bigger compliment I can give the author.

Update: I think the quote above illustrates why flying dreams are so memorable, why it’s sad that they visit with less frequency as we age, and why those rare nights when they pass through like an old friend are so exciting and, on waking, bittersweet. Maybe that’s a best reason (there can be more than one) to write–to try and recapture, where you can, the sensation of flying without a net, and making it seem easy for the reader. Because it certainly seems easy in dreams to at least get off the ground–although maintaining altitude can be tricky. Like being a superhero with finicky powers.