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Picturing a World

Girl at a garden gate

I think we can all agree that one of the saddest things about the current pandemic is the way it has forced children into isolation. Worse things than being cheated of graduation exercises can happen to teenagers; but for younger children to be cheated of grandparents and playmates? That's worrisome for their psychological future. Strange how we bring our preoccupations to looking at images. I think I would always have loved the way this little girl, held in by the fence, looks out at us. At another time, I might have related it to feminist concerns or formalist art-history observations on Morisot's technique. Now it seems somehow emblematic of summer 2020, even for the privileged few. Beautiful, potent, rueful.

Image via Art and Artists.

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Train of thought

Writers are always being asked, where do you get your ideas for stories? and the best answer is always "I dunno." Nevertheless, there are certainly exercises that can loosen imagination, and that's fun whether it leads to a finished story or not. Consider this picture of a small train traveling in the countryside toward encroaching shadows.

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Disparities

Good news! Bookstores are reopening in Massachusetts. Shopping in one of my favorites, the Bookloft, requires an appointment; but the store has a good website. For summer reading, I have just ordered a Martin Walker mystery and a boxed set of N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Trilogy.
 
Bad news: I have also just read an article about disparities in pay between white and black authors. Good grief. Jemisin, who is black, was given advances of just $25,000 for each volume of the trilogy—each one of which won the Hugo Award for Fiction (the third also won the Nebula Award).

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Black lives matters, black fiction lives

It is hard to say anything original or profound in the face of George Floyd's murder and its aftermath, but one thing a white person can do is listen. The case for racism as the nation's four-hundred-year-old sin and an unavoidable condition of life for black citizens is easy to make. The news does it every day. Brilliant books have laid out the case time after time after time. What is harder, even with the best journalism, biography, essays, legal writing, and history, is to experience each other's lives. That's where fiction comes in.

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Much needed inspiration

Blog post alert: It is so difficult at a time of plague, economic duress, and justified rage to know where to turn. Somehow in the midst of anguish, lies, blather, and banalities, some artists and writers find ways to respond forcefully and honestly. A striking example is Vanessa Lemen's oblique artwork combined with her straightforward post on how she paints around "found phrases." The very idea that "through art we harvest the unknown" can be a reminder to reach deep and go where inspiration leads.

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