Monday, November 19, 2012

the last book I ever read (The Art of Fielding, excerpt three)

from The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach:

Pella nodded. She knew the Emerson riff by heart, but Mike clearly wanted to tell it, and if that would cheer him up as she was willing to listen.

“His first wife died young, of tuberculosis. Emerson was shattered. Months later, he went to the cemetery, alone, and dug up her grave. Opened the coffin and looked inside, at what was left of this woman he loved. Can you imagine? It must have been terrible. Just a terrible thing to do. But the thing is, Emerson had to do it. He needed to see for himself. To understand death. To make death real. Your dad said that the need to see for yourself, even in the most difficult circumstances, was what educa—“

“Ellen was nineteen,” Pell interrupted to say. She hated the namelessness of women in stories, as if they lived and died so that men could have metaphysical insights. “One of the cures the doctors prescribed for tuberculosis back then was ‘jolting.’ Which meant going for high-speed carriage rides on deeply rutted roads. Months, weeks before she died. Coughing up blood all the way.”

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