From far down the long, flat road the bus comes. “Wichita” it says in white letters, and it has come from Denver, from Salt Lake, from San Francisco, and the girl. Lee, has come just that far herself, riding two days and nights out to this western Kansas prairie to see her grandfather for the last time. He is an old man now, no longer the hard old dandy who panned gold in Alaska, but a frail and slightly senile version of that self, and this vacation she senses somehow will mark their last visit. All evening her mind has dwelled on death while her hands folded and unfolded her grandfather’s last letter. But now, exhausted of tears and feeling, she only stares vacantly out the window. There the moon shines full, and it is a nice night, a summer night, where the air hovers still, and the dark is only a soft haze above and beyond the moon as though it were not really night at all, but the day fixed in a soundless, empty eternity.
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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