Saturday, August 13, 2005

One Word

Most good bloggers are easy to quote. Good bloggers tend to be aphoristic -- they know they don't have their audience for long. They write pithy comments, short poems, 200 word essays in five paragraphs. That's what I do, or try to. I figured out just what it is that I love about Zhoen's writing when I tried to begin this post with a quotation from her blog. I couldn't do it.

There were plenty of memorable sentences and there was plenty of pith. But every great sentence depended on some other sentence. I couldn't find anything to pull out. It was all connected and interlaced.

Zhoen has all the time in the world. Her essays build up slowly, layer upon layer. I come back to them again and again, and every time discover more connections. The structure and progression of the essays isn't obvious. They can seem to be wandering, if you're not paying attention. Just variations on a theme. They're not always polished, and they're never slick. But the interweaving is intricate, and it's all made of real stuff. The concrete world. Memories of childhood. Footwear. Tattoos.

Zhoen has washed the bodies of the dead, and to me that illustrates her groundedness. Death is no abstraction for her. Death is a matter of of breathing that finally dies away, bodies that need to be cleaned up, relatives who need to be informed. She tells the whole story of a bad marriage, vividly, with a passing mention of wet sneakers in the Tetons.

Read what she has to say about
tattoos. Or being activated to serve in the first Gulf War. Or Death. But really, you can start anywhere. Everything connects to everything else.

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