The gray square above is meant to stand in for a photograph of my dead wife, may she rest in peace. For a photograph, that is, of my wife dead and in her coffin, which I took during the first moments of the memorial service before my presence was detected and I was forced to flee. Were the image actually present, you would see how carefully the undertaker has worked to make her other than she is. The color her flesh appears to be reveals nothing of the gray pallor that afflicted her body as she approached death. lo place of the carefully waved wig here depicted, her hair had been coming out in clumps, her scalp spasmed with red sores. Her hands, formerly gnarled and clenched, are here spread flat one atop the other on her belly. I know from the undertaker chat this last effect was achieved only by breaking the fingers after death with a pair of pliers. The quality of the film I employed was sufficiently high chat, with the aid of a magnifying glass, one can make out beneath the powder …
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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