Some inhabitants of a city were milling around a room one sunny day looking at an exhibit of historical maps of earlier iterations of their city, all carrying fragile nostalgias in their minds, which they all thought of as the only possible nostalgia, but in fact they were inhabiting a city radiating with multiple and multilexical and multi-stratigraphic nostalgias. * The structure was concentric. Newer inhabitants, whose nostalgia was on the inner rings, tended to talk about it more. One brand-new inhabitant at a dinner party, possibly on coke, was so nostalgic that he wasn’t even nostalgic for the past, but for the present, a kind of pre-order nostalgia, because he knew it couldn’t last, it couldn’t last, he kept repeating, shaking his head, his wide eyes staring glazed at the table. Couldn’t last? It’s already over! thought the rest of the guests, who were longer-term inhabitants. But they sipped their wine in silence, for their nostalgias were on wider rings. * Their nostalgias were, of course, also the only possible nostalgias.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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