Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thread in the labyrinth

The dog stopped barking and began to snooze. Child no. 3 is sleeping so deeply I checked for breathing. Child no. 2 and friends (day off today!) probably stayed up all night. Sleeping in the playroom, those... The tourist traffic sounds like water. I look around and once again realize the dire need for three maids, a gardener, and a secretary. The latter part of summer is all reading-and-judging of some hundreds of books, with occasional hops out in the world to remind people that A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage leaped into the world of March 30th, eager for friends. Also I do bits of work on the upcoming poetry books, The Foliate Head and Thaliad. Then there is life, with children and husband and friends and visitors. It's all quite crammed.

Since reading when I wake up, while I eat lunch, and on into the night gets in the way of writing, I have started a strange manuscript that appears to be going somewhere, though I'm not sure where. I'm not making myself consider the where, only that I must have fifteen minutes each day to call my own. I just sit down and immediately write for that short space of time. The narrator is a young woman who tumbled into another world as a child, and there is Reknel who is so large that she only sits and thinks, and there is Omin, who fishes for the bones of the dead, and there is a sort of highwayman whose identity will emerge. Oh, and Old Martin, who comes from the same place as the narrator and teaches her English. Evidently there are five others from the same realm. They haven't appeared yet. Others as yet unknown are lurking in the trees, no doubt. I save a tiny snip of time for it every day, as not writing makes me feel . . . peculiar.  So I now follow the ways of Trollope, writing once a day in brief and businesslike fashion. I have no idea whether this piece will have some strength or whether it will be simple a large, diffuse embroidery that simply allowed me to "keep my hand in." Either way, I follow the thread through the labyrinth of many books. And the heap is starting to look like a labyrinth in the guest room--stack after stack of books with tiny paths in between.

Quote of the Day:  And here is a reminder that the new novel is a real thing in the world--as it could easily feel like a dream, given the nonstop reading and the pickled eyes hanging out on stalks:  Nancy Olson (a Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year), Quail Ridge Books (excerpt, Quail Mail #638): Occasionally I read a new work of fiction that blows me away, and Marly Youmans's A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer $24) did just that. Every page in this book resonates with beautifully crafted language, a "universal melody that sings of deep loss and conciliation," and a moving story of a young boy, who after the death of his beloved younger brother, takes to the rails in Depression-era America. I agree with one reviewer that said this is destined to be an American classic.

2 comments:

  1. Marly,
    Glad to hear that you are taking time, even if you don't have it, to work on something new. It will no doubt energize you and make the rest possible.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.