American Wild: it can kill you, or exhilarate you. It’s always there, a character in its own right in the great unfolding narrative of American writing.
When I was seventeen, in 1980, I went on an American road trip with my...
‘It has to be love, doesn’t it? In however many of its infinite permutations?’
‘He’d come to tell her that he was leaving. It seemed rather impossible now – the telling, not the leaving.’
‘She’s a good-for-nothing chummer. If she survives a week on the slime line without cutting off her thumb or slicing her wrist, she’s hired.’
‘When he stepped into the cage he was doing battle with a disease. The disease was the feeling of powerlessness that takes hold of even the most powerful.’
‘I walk out of the theatre in a daze. I’ve glimpsed something. But a glimpse, as it turns out, is not enough.’
An investigation of how historical racial factors shape memory, heritage and political and interpersonal relations in Louisiana and Mississippi.
‘What am I doing here more than looking – / which I would stop / only to help things through their vanishing’
‘It is the wildest part of the American South-West and, in a way, its most beautiful.’
‘Today the Oglala Lakota live in the shadow of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.’
‘Red sadness never appears sad . . . it appears in flashes of passion, anger, fear, inspiration and courage, in dark unsellable visions; it is an upside down penny concealed beneath a tea cosy.’
‘Barring weather or a World Series game, on Sundays I’d pick up a nice little box lunch from Mustang Catering and take Grandma some place that smelled good.’
‘Funny to end up here you may think, in this line of work, did I back into it, well more or less.’
‘Sounds like a mast year . . . it’s a thing that happens to trees. But sometimes it happens to people too.’
‘He had a mind to surf through all crises and shortages and conflicts past and present.’
‘‘I have a body now,’ I whisper.’
‘You’ve got your catflap, I’ve got my guy.’
‘We live in these places out of necessity, lucky to have them out of the terrible explosion of humanity.’
‘The bewilderment was productive, and relit a good fire under my instinct, which I didn’t have to conflate with certainty.’
‘We’ve got a lot of family friends but Thorsten has been coming round far too often recently and I wonder whether I shouldn’t tell her that sometime.’
‘I wrote ‘valley’ when I meant ‘longing’ / Your laugh a river A trout kind of green.’
‘A year later, still in third person, I’d taken five days off my character’s long wait. I’d moved to present tense, though, for more immediacy.’
‘A lot of babies were born in skiffs during storms, their umbilical cords cut with rusty pocketknives.’
‘The wild is no place for women—the film would seem to say.’
‘We all would like to think that with one line, one brush, we could make a reader fall madly in love, and there are writers that elicit such a response with the appropriately gorgeous.’
‘I had a new persona I’d been planning to introduce the first day of school: a girl wise beyond her years who was not at all nerdy or spastic or prone to crying jags.’
Granta Best Young British Novelist, Alan Warner, shares five things he’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
‘I dislike sleep, he told the girl, matches keep me awake.’
‘Hi there, dear sister, I’m sad / But here to tell you / That you never did amount to anything’
‘Marni on Mack. Mack in Marni. A little Mack and Marni. My head rushes. I want to watch, hear the sounds.’
‘Flute-like, gauze-filled, late-afternoon sunshine. Rainbow bracelets on the carpet. They use their tongues to wet their lips. Girls.’
‘I was stuck in Texas for a month. The days passed like slow-motion films.
‘He not only sees the World Cup as a ceasefire, but also as a series of sleights of hand that hide what’s really going on, political debauchery, spin and chicanery.’
‘Football is a game; it’s not real life. But in a continent as illogical as Latin America, the lines blur.’
Kseniya Melnik, chosen in 2010 as a Granta New Voice, shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
‘Heads of saints fell off and / smashed the glassy cages. My voice smashed them.’
‘When he opened his eyes, she was looking out at the rooster, the sun-blasted concrete, the railing thinned to brittle by the brightness.’
‘So many thugs in any century how crush them all? / All passports stamped for the underworld’
‘We are not burying one of us in snow.’
Akhil Sharma, a Granta Best Young American Novelist and author of new novel Family Life, shares five things he’s reading, watching and thinking about.
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