Monday, November 07, 2005

Connect Four

I used to love that game as a kid, the way you had to plan out your moves so that you could connect four before someone else. I am trying to explain that to my students, how in fiction as the author you have to be able to connect four. You have to set things in motion. Like in ZZ Packer's short story "Brownies," the bathroom has to be dirty so Daphne will bend to pick things up and how once that happens, Laurel will be able to make a connection between Daphne and the Mennonites who paint her porch. And then she will come to the heart of the memory of her father, the way the world can show its ugliness. How only now can she understand the complexity of racism.

Or how in life we try to make a connection between certain things in our lives or make symbols of other things. How we are constantly trying to either see the meaning that already exists or make meaning out of things that don't make sense unless we construct a narrative. In a way, I think fiction is somewhat like a treasure hunt. How one thing unfolds into another. The patternless pattern. That which becomes apparent and that which is beautiful mystery. He brought flowers today at lunch. The surprise of flowers and a lawyer in the middle of the afternoon. The way their stems twist around each other, their pink, orange, red, and yellow heads jumping out from the vase. I too, unable to contain myself.

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