On reading and an older definition of "gossip"
I’m tired of blaming my smartphone for my inability to read anything straight through anymore.
It’s not really that.
It’s more that when I read something good and true these days, a moment that somehow occurs with both increasing and decreasing frequency, it cuts across me like a cleaning agent, and then, and soon, and now I’ve got to have a pen in my hand before the paragraph or page or poem is done, wielding my own sharp points, looking to do my own wash on truth.
I’m reading Kathryn Davis’ Aurelia Aurélia, and reading about Davis reading, Davis surviving her husband’s death, Davis writing about the deep hiding places of the body, where truths lie in wait—cancer, and wanting to be in love, and wanting to be alone, and wanting to annihilate the writers you love for revealing the words and worlds that lined your own private living before you thought to do it yourself, and wanting to haunt, and wanting to be haunted, and wanting to gossip, or wanting to cock an ear towards it to understand its function.
“Grace Paley said gossip is a neighborhood’s way of developing a moral sense, but it’s also a way of establishing dominance,” and Davis is walking her dog with other dog walkers who are gossiping about neighborhood love affairs, and in the next sentence she is walking through a childhood street where only the presence of a boy can stave off the quiet bite of girl gossip, friendships underscored by competition, a mark of the feminine, a fight to the death, and the prize isn’t always a boyfriend.