Posts Tagged ‘Claire Donato’
December 12, 2013 | by Amina Cain
For years now, whenever I read a novel, narrative has been impressing itself more and more visually in my mind. Or maybe it’s that my mind has gone more and more toward these fictional visions. Even though I’m a writer, it’s not always language I’m drawn to. When I start writing a new story, I often begin with setting. Before plot, before dialogue, before anything else, I begin to see where a story will take place, and then I hear the narrative voice, which means that character is not far behind. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about landscape painting and literature, and perhaps as an extension of this I have started to think through the idea of character and landscape as similar things, or at least as intimates, codependent.
In I Await the Devil’s Coming, Mary MacLane writes, “We three go out on the sand and barrenness: my wooden heart, my good young woman’s-body, my soul … this sand and barrenness forms the setting for the personality of me.” This is a gentle Mary MacLane, not a caustic one, going sadly out into her Montana landscape (she would rather be in the city). Again and again. Taking the reader there too. Taking the reader to her personality. For where are we when we read Mary MacLane? We are in the three things that form her, and we are in the sand. I would like to visit MacLane’s Montana in the same way I would like to visit the wasted, spectral landscape in Paul Delvaux’s painting The Lamps (those gray, crumbling hills), partly so I might meet the female figures who haunt it—doppelgängers—except there are five of them trudging across that land. Read More »