“The station waggons arrived at noon,…

a long shining line that coursed through the west campus.”

(first line from Don Delillo’s White Noise)

Today’s story has two major points of origin.  First: yesterday I heard the poet Carol Frost give a reading.  One of her poems was about her mother, who suffers from dementia, and how she wasn’t able to read a clock.  I’ve been turning over a story in my mind for a while where I wanted to have a character who suddenly was unable to recognize symbols (numbers, words, letters, even images that represented other things).  I always envisioned this story as an absurdist kind of thing, but in spite of my designs today’s story came out as an exercise in realism.

The second point of origin is the title The Book of Words.  In college, a bunch of us thought it would be funny to write a sketch about a church where all the words are complete nonsense.  When people sing or pray or there’s a call and response, it would always be an illogical strand of words.  The main crux of the joke, I guess, was in exploiting the meaninglessness of actual words (as opposed to the actions they are coupled with); or maybe the point of it was the same as DuChamp’s famous painting of a pipe entitled “This is not a pipe.”  In other words, playing with the gap between objects/ideas/actions and the representation of those same objects/ideas/actions.  Maybe I’m over thinking it.

In addition, I also wanted this story to be an exercise in creating a shifting point of view.  So you’ll notice that, although the POV is third person, it glides back and forth between the man and the woman.  I’m not sure how or if this enhances (or limits) the story, but it’s there.

Thanks for tuning in, see you tomorrow!

April 27 — The Book of Words

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