I began the day standing at a threshold of time—the beginning of something, the end of something. I had a method for standing that was called art, then writing. The way I stood allowed me to see how things could begin and end this way—simultaneously. It was hard to follow these opposing tendencies, especially when you were writing and couldn’t see anyway, see anything other than these words appearing on the laptop screen. You were writing about something you weren’t looking at. There had been a break. I was saying this on paper. I am not ready for school. I was typing this. Almost a summer had elapsed. I was looking at committee meetings ahead of me and Friday Night Lights behind. I was looking at the desires of my students. I was picturing January. I was picturing September 7. Aja seemed to be saying I wasn’t feeding her. I was typing this. It was still summer. In a moment, Angela Rawlings declared her love for Iceland. I could see her threshold between her feet. Rachel Levitsky had a threshold. Martha had just crossed hers. Stacy kept changing her name. We were all trying to end something and were finding something new in the process, though what we found didn’t seem to belong to us exclusively. Aja flew to the East Coast to go swimming, but there was a hurricane. Rather than fly back, she sat solidly in the wind. I didn’t hear from her for hours. I made cups of coffee. The day was tremendous. I wanted to name all the people who had thresholds between their legs and began to compile a list, which quickly became a volume, and was at volume 14 when it overflowed the walls of that writing.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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