Yonder Stands Your Orphan

The Daily Miltonian would like to salute the life and works of author Barry Hannah, who passed away earlier this week.  What feels strange is that his passing occurred just at the time when a sudden surge in interest in his fiction was occurring, blooming like spring flowers, all throughout our immediate peer group.  One of the first books that Matthew Korfhage grabbed from off of my shelf in my first Portland apartment was Hannah’s Airships, and he looked at the book and looked at me and looked back at the book and said “This book is the shit.”  We knew, then, that we could be friends, would be friends.  Nearly three years later we put on our first Literary Mixtape and our original intent was to only read stories by Leonard Michaels and Barry Hannah.  As it turned out, we all read stories by Leonard Michaels and I wound up reading “Love Too Long”, from Airships. I might as well have dumped a bucket of water on the audience, that’s how the story hit them.  When the event ended, no one wanted to say “good job” or “congratulations” or “where are you guys drinking after this.”  They all just wanted to know where the hell that story was from, who the hell wrote it, and how the hell could they get their hands on a copy.  A friend wrote me at noon the next day, her message only said “Found Airships at the library!”  And that’s the feeling we want, as readers, isn’t it?  That new-issue release-day comic book feeling, the communal sensation of opening night — everyone jazzed on the same vibe, the same emotion, to be, as the cliche goes,  on the same page.

The unnamed narrators crippling fear in “Love Too Long” is that he is going to die of love. It is our feeling, here on this gorgeous pre-spring day in the City of Roses, that maybe that’s not such a bad thing, after all.  You can never love too long.  Barry Hannah, you will be missed.

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2 thoughts on “Yonder Stands Your Orphan

  1. “Sometimes you don’t want to arrange your memory. I love the pure chaos of it and just the reverie of it for its own sake. I think that is what a writer has: a better memory than most people, or at least a more sensual memory. Language and memory are what it is all about. … concentration, that’s what Dostoevsky said. Concentration is what the artist is about: he can look, and look, and look, and look.”

    interview, 1996, Mississippi Review Online

  2. can’t resist the synchronicity:

    Zen ethics is grounded in the realization that one does not know what’s right. This “not-knowing” is the refuge from which all moral action originates. It’s a refuge that can’t be relegated to the role of moral abstraction and remains a free and alive expression of the moment. What’s offered us in the place of moral certainty is doubt and love, which are nearly synonymous. Doubt wears the hard edges off our best ideas and exposes us to the world as it is. When the great Zen master Ikkyu was asked, “What is Zen?” He replied, “Attention! Attention! Attention!”
    This very attention to a world that’s not of our contrivance is an act of love, for we can only love what we truly see.

    – Lin Jensen, “An Ear to the Ground,” Tricycle, Summer 2006

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