Silence and Silences
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, now available
A meditation on the infinite search for meanings in silence
We need quiet to feel nothing, to hear silence that brings back proportion and the beauty of not knowing, except for the outlines of what we live every day. Something inner settles. The right to silence unmediated by social judgment. Sitting at a table in an empty kitchen, peeling an apple, I wait for its next transformation. For a few seconds, the red, mottled, dangling skin unwinds what happened to it on earth.
This book sets out to touch silence for brief experiences of what's real. In images, dreams and actions, the challenge leads the writer to her heart. The pages of Silence and Silences form a vast tapestry of meanings—shaped by many forces outside personal circumstance. Moving closer, the reader notices intricacies that shift when touched. As the writer steps aside, there is cosmic joy, biological truth, historical injustice. Women's voices and women's silences; Agnes Martin's thin, fine lines and D. H. Lawrence's artful letters; an active engagement with personal memories as the self changes over time. COVID-19 thrusts itself into the unbounded narrative, and isolation brings with it a new kind of stillness.
"Reading a book is a way of withdrawing into silence. It is a way of seeing and listening, of pulling back from what is happening at that very moment." Silence and Silences creates a record of how we tell ourselves stories, how we think and how we know. Above all, silence itself becomes a presence on the page and gives the reader space to find that silence in surprising ways.