“What an atrocious, sustained effort is required, I find, to learn or do anything thoroughly–especially if it’s what you love.  A vocation is a source of difficulty, not ease.  To do is difficult enough.  To be, more difficult still.  Both to do and to be demand an effort at superhumanity.  Well, why not?  Anything is preferable to the safe side of the line” (The Transit of Venus, 116).

Books that help me see both sides:

Atkinson, Kate – Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Baldwin, James – Going to Meet the Man

Beard, Jo Ann – In Zanesville

Bechdel, Alison – Fun Home

Beattie, Ann – Chilly Scenes of Winter; Walks With Men

Braver, Adam – Misfit

Bynum, Sara Shun-lien – Ms. Hempel Chronicles

Casey, John – Spartina

Chase, Joan – During the Reign of the Queen of Persia

Hazzard, Shirley – The Transit of Venus; The Great Fire

Eisenberg, Deborah – The Collected Stories

Faulkner, William – The Sound and The Fury; The Wild Palms

Diaz, Junot – Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Joyce, James – Dubliners

Mehta, Gita – A River Sutra

Morrison, Toni – Song of Solomon; Beloved

Munro, Alice – Thank you for everything, Alice.

Murakami, Haruki – South of the Border, West of the Sun

Nordan, Lewis – The Sharpshooter Blues

Lerner, Ben – Leaving the Atocha Station

Mantel, Hilary – Wolf Hall; Bring Up the Bodies

Myka, Lenore – King of the Gypsies

Proulx, Annie – Postcards; The Shipping News

Lahiri, Jhumpa – Interpreter of Maladies

Melville, Herman – Moby-Dick 

Robinson, Marilynne – Gilead

Rushdie, Salman – Midnight’s Children

Salter, James – Light Years

Tower, Wells – Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Ward, Jesmyn – Salvage the Bones

Wiggins, Marianne – Evidence of Things Unseen

Winton, Tim – Cloudstreet

Woolf, Virginia – To The Lighthouse

One thought on “Ballast

  1. Hello,

    My name is Michael. I just read your story in Ploughshares and enjoyed it more than any of the other things I read in that issue. Thank you for writing it: it was a pleasure and a help to read.

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