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05/03/2003

One for the Copy Book

People are sometimes surprised that I actually do keep copy books. Today I felt I had to dig out this passage from Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings:

When I was young enough to still spend a long time buttoning my shoes in the morning, I'd listen towards the hall: Daddy upstairs was shaving in the bathroom and Mother downstairs was frying the bacon. They would begin whistling back and forth to each other up and down the stairwell. My father would whistle his phrase, my mother would try to whistle, then hum hers back. It was their duet. I drew my buttonhook in and out and listened to it — I knew it was 'The Merry Widow.' The difference was, their song almost floated with laughter: how different from the record, which growled from the beginning, as if the Victrola were only slowly being wound up. They kept it running between them, up and down the stairs where I was now just about ready to run clattering down and show them my shoes.

— Eudora Welty

 

I've copied this before. I covet it, just like as a child I coveted those chalk sidewalk landscapes in Mary Poppins that the characters were able to jump into. Welty's writing here carries the reader up and down those stairs along with the tune, and by the end its me running down the stairs. Those are my shoes.

May 3, 2003 in blockbusters, if in doubt, quote | Permalink

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