Jonah didn’t know exactly what he expected to see when he stepped from the elevator, but he had a vague sense that it would be something mysterious and otherworldly. A wide-open space full of fog, mist, and lots of whites and light grays, maybe. Somber chant or choral music sung by unseen beings, that sort of thing. Or perhaps green pastures, bubbling brooks, and rainbows in a blue sky . . . the My Little Pony afterlife. To read Angeling from the beginning, see the table of contents at the Angeling book page. Which is why he was so shocked […]
Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? … Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power?
―Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction.
The instant Jonah let go of his grandfather’s hand, his shadow jerked him backward, hard—like a parachute suddenly braking a skydiver’s fall, but in reverse. Okay, that was a bad move, he thought. To read Angeling from the beginning, see the table of contents at the Angeling book page. Instead of rising toward the Light, Jonah found himself being dragged down, swallowed by his shadow. Everything in him screamed to breathe, but there was no air, only a suffocating coldness. He had wanted to save his shadow-self; instead, he was drowning with it, and he had the sickening thought that […]
“And that is why we always wear a helmet, people,” Campbell quipped as he stood over Jonah, who lay unmoving where he’d landed, slightly to one side of home plate, arms and legs splayed out. That is why we always wear a helmet, people, was something the coach liked to say; Campbell quoted the saying now as an ironic understatement. Peter was not amused. He bent down and shook Jonah’s shoulder. “Hey Jonah, you okay?” Jonah’s head wobbled slightly, and a moist choking noise rose up from his throat, but he didn’t respond. His eyes were open, but unfocused. “Did […]
“I’m going to kill that Grubinski kid,” Alaska muttered darkly. “Wouldn’t that go against your Quaker beliefs?” Jonah asked. Alaska wrinkled her nose. “I’ll convert.” Alaska and Jonah were playing with Mr. Berning’s tabby cat on a sunny windowsill while they waited for seventh-period biology to begin. Jonah had heard somewhere that cats had a soothing, calming effect on people, but even scratching the purring animal behind the ears didn’t seem to be doing much for Alaska. Two hours after their little meeting with Mr. Pincer and Bull, she was still fuming. “I can’t believe Mr. Pincer fell for Bull’s […]
Anna should not open the door for the beautiful woman in black. How many times have her parents warned her against opening the door for strangers while she is home alone? Up until now, she has obediently ignored the various delivery people, politicians, salesmen, missionaries—and yes, even Girl Scouts, with their promises of Thin Mints—who have rung the bell at 12 Cherry Street. Then again, none of those people were nearly as beautiful as the woman at the door. None of them arrived during the blizzard of the century. And none of them carried a box wrapped in shiny gold […]
Jonah made his way into the school as quickly as possible without actually breaking into a run, dodging around packs of kids to lose anyone who might have followed him from the bus. By the time he was sure no one was after him, though, he was completely lost. He couldn’t find the green-eyed girl among the hundreds of unfamiliar faces crowding the hallways. He wandered around for ten minutes, map in hand, before the tone for homeroom sounded. Once almost everyone else had disappeared into classrooms, one of the adult hall monitors spotted him and took him to his […]
Four days before he woke up in the hospital able to see and hear things he shouldn’t, Jonah stood on an unfamiliar street corner waiting for the bus that would take him to his first day at James Buchanan Regional High School. He didn’t see his grandfather as he waited, nor any beautiful star-filled creatures shining with light. In fact, Jonah’s head was so busy imagining how the day might unfold that the list of things he didn’t see, hear, or feel as he stood at the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets was actually rather long: The tiny, curled-up […]
There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. —Thomas Merton It was the sound of his mother’s voice that woke Jonah Wilder from his drug-induced coma—the echo of a song, calling to him from the far side of a dark mist. In the mist there had been nothing—not even memories of the past or thoughts of the future. And without a past or a future, or stars above his head or ground beneath his feet, Jonah had been nothing, too. When her voice found him, he clung to it as […]
Ransom was so small that the state highway department noted its existence only by the SPEED LIMIT 40 sign on the way into town and the SPEED LIMIT 55 sign on the way out. Lacey was on her way out, and she had no intention of keeping any speed limits. It was a summer’s morning just after dawn, the road was empty, and her windows were rolled down. She wanted to feel the wind on her face as she left Ransom, a small place for small people. She wanted to fly. Why she hadn’t left sooner was a mystery that […]
The crab apple tree was in full bloom, glowing white in the moonlight. Cathy stood underneath it, her small mouth slightly agape as she looked up into a galaxy of blossoms. She was dressed in a pink flannel nightgown and she could feel the dew from the grass soaking through her slippers. “Bruce!” she called in a loud whisper, peering intently into the tree. “Bruce!” She could hear him approach through the side yard. The beam from his flashlight made her broad shadow dance around the base of the tree. Bruce, a jug of a man in a white t-shirt […]