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  • Strange landscapes

    In a short story by the writer Alice Munro titled, 'Walker Brothers Cowboy', a young girl joins her father, a fox farmer turned traveling salesman, on his visits to homes in the countryside where they live. After observing her father nearly getting doused with a chamber pot of urine by an unwelcoming customer, he veers off his usual rounds to visit a woman whom she slowly understands to be his sweetheart from when he was younger. Driving back home, she thinks about the events of the day: ​ "So my father drives and my brother watches the road for rabbits and I feel my father's life flowing back from our car in the last of the afternoon, darkening and turning strange, like a landscape that has an enchantment on it, making it kindly, ordinary and familiar while you are looking at it, but changing it, once your back is turned, into something you will never know, with all kinds of weathers, and distances you cannot imagine. When we get closer to Tuppertown the sky becomes gently overcast, as always, nearly always, on summer evenings by the Lake" (Munro 2010: 23). ​ ​
  • Echolocation (Part two)

    "In Steinbeck’s 'Of Mice and Men', Crooks consoles the simple, unaffected and kindly Lennie when his friend, George, doesn’t return from town. He tells him he should be glad that he at least has someone. 'S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t get into the bunk-house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? (…) A guy sits alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’ an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be alright. But I jus’ don’t know' "(Steinbeck 1973:62 in Liebenberg 2011: 102).
  • "I've decided to stop pitying myself"

    “Her purse is half open, and I see a hotel room key, a metro ticket, and a hundred-franc note folded in four, like objects brought back by a space probe sent to earth to study how earthlings live, travel, and trade with one another. The sight leaves me pensive and confused. Does the cosmos contain keys for opening up my diving bell? A subway line with no terminus? A currency strong enough to buy my freedom back? We must keep looking. I'll be off now". An extract from Jean-Dominique Bauby's 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', the memoir which he dictated after suffering a stroke in 1995. The stroke rendered him mute and almost completely paralyzed, except for the movement of his left eyelid. Bauby dictated his memoir through blinking as his speech therapist listed the letters of the alphabet. When his doctor told him his prognosis, he mentioned that in the past , he would have simply died from this type of stroke, but that improved resuscitation techniques had now prolonged and refined the agony of this condition: "You survive, but you survive with what is so aptly known as 'locked-in syndrome'”.
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