“We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so…”
I’m reading Michael Cunningham‘s The Hours right now for my book club and absolutely love this quote. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (along with a slew of other awards…gulp!), more people will probably be familiar with the movie of the same name, which starred three nobodies (Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman) and a weak-to-quite-weak supporting cast (Ed Harris, John C. Reilly, Stephen Dillane, Jeff Daniels, Miranda Richardson, Allison Janney, Toni Collette and Claire Danes).
What I love about this Quote of the Day is that – aside from being bang-on – it’s depressingly uplifting; it’s both sad and encouraging somehow. Agents, publishers and editors always stress that less is more, how the simple will always triumph over the convoluted. And guess what? Okay, okay, okay. I’ll give you three guesses, but the first two don’t count.
The answer is that they’re all correct.
While the strength of the passage obviously (obviously!) lies in the fact that Mr. Cunningham recognizes Canada as a superior country to the United States of Donnie T., it’s his simple prose tying so much of our greatest fears and hopes together that makes it sing off the page.
Good on Mikey C., eh? Maybe next time he be go and write good about ‘nother country fulla awesomeness, like that wicked hot place southa’ them there New Great Wall. That’d be somethin’, huh?