Thursday, February 16, 2006

R.I.P. Barbara Guest

The Minus Ones

She submitted a few stories she called The Minus Ones.

They came to her as short signals, as if they lived on her roof top. They rolled off the roof of her mouth climbed there from memory or from a table where empty cups glistened with tearfulness. Also menu-like out of her stung heart came surprising plots: Spanish women and high shoes, stories of valleys and boatless seas no cargoes. Rocks similar to the porpoises in her marine story appeared. They were made of coal hard yet they chipped flakes of coal dust blew off them soiling her clothes.

From her reading she borrowed a lake bottomless and a body without gravity flying over it. This appropriation brought on a serious malaise; she became plotless and her stories were bound without the usual wrapping of ribbon.

Seasons became important, ivy on green trees and the mournful rhododendron, icicles appeared more frequently. And meadows with horses. She neglected to include the rituals of contemporary life and the Scenario Department complained. When she wrote of wood burning she said the devils inside the fire were excited.

The fire scene destroyed any chance she had for her new stories to be accepted. They told her they liked real fires and not those of the imagination. Imagination was harmful and always messed up the set.

--from The Confetti Trees

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