Breath & Shadow
Volume 15, Issue 4
"Understanding Passion and Passionate Understanding: A Book Review"
Anne Finger has written an enthralling and deeply meaningful story with her novel, A Woman, in Bed. Set in France, it tells the story of Simone Clermont (Vidal before the story starts and Melville later in it) from her days as a young mother during World War I, through her life as a middle-aged woman in World War II, and ends with her an aging woman coping with a disabling illness in the 1960s. Finger has set her novel during what is arguably one of the most tumultuous, fast-changing periods in the history of humanity and she has given characters and situations both concreteness and believability. The book paints a dramatically detailed panorama and brings it to vibrant life.
Amy made their bed while Ed took his shower. Then she poured coffee in a mug at the kitchen table. Tina jumped onto Ed's chair and purred. Outside, rain clouds blocked the sun. The shower spray stopped. Tina stopped purring and stared at the bathroom door.
She filled a bowl with cereal and put some milk in a plastic cover and placed it on the table near the edge. While Amy ate, Tina put her black paws on the table, stretched her neck and lapped the milk.
"Bartering for Health"
In the course of one year, we had three cancer scares in my family. My mom (breast), my dad (colon), and me (skin). And three times, we got lucky.
Cancer diagnoses can go either way -- potentially life-threatening and life as you know it will never be the same again or completely treatable and you move on with your life.
Either way, no one wants to hear the “c” word.
"A Rock And A Hard Place"
"ALS," his doctor had said, and he'd been okay with that. It would take a lot more than three little letters to intimidate Commander Peter Stein. But then the doc spelled it out for him--Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis--and Peter realized he was in trouble. Oh, and those muscle twitches he'd gone in for?
How could any man hope to overcome so many syllables?
As a volunteer, my job was to stand around with a red bag full of donation envelopes and wait for politely-dressed people to make eye contact with me so that I would cruise over to their table and permit them to deposit inquiries in my ears, dripping with silver to match my heels.
I could not do this job. Upon receiving the scanty training, I reported my disability to the volunteer coordinator. “Excuse me, hi. Yes, so, um, I believe that this task will be beyond my visual capacity, so I’m hoping to just back away and, maybe, stand against the wall.”
Every few seasons or so Superman sequesters himself in a private sanctuary along with a ball of kryptonite. The kryptonite disables him. It makes him kin to those desperate bodies with whom he is surrounded and to whom he has made himself devoted. For him this is the retreat into the monk’s cave, the visionary’s desert fast, the sauna chained shut. A confrontation with the self, a self raw and trembling on the cusp of the void.
"Threads of Ugliness"
I am screaming. I am kneeling on the floor of my kitchen, the piles of dirty dishes I have been unable to clean spilling over the sides of the sink and onto the counters. The crusted remnants of dinners I could not cook myself stain the dishes, stain my soul. I am screaming, sobbing, hands threaded into my hair. The strands of greasy hair I have been unable to wash. Pulling. Pulling to withdraw the despair. The hopelessness. I can feel the strands of ugliness, black threads pulsing with anger, wound sinuously through my mind. If only I can pull hard enough.