A Nobel Laureate

Alan Gorschak was out pulling turnips in the garden behind his homewhen the call came from Stockholm telling him he had been awardedthis year’s Nobel Prize for Reverie. “At least, I think they wereturnips,” said Mr. Gorschak. His wife, Alice, a pleasant lookinglarge framed woman in her late fifties, chimed in with, “Probably,Alan should have stopped driving years ago. But the car seems toknow where it’s going and it gets him there. We always buyAmerican. We’re not sure foreign cars could do this, not on ourroads anyway.” “Of course, I was surprised when I got the call,” said Mr.Gorschak. “I hadn’t thought about the Nobel Prize in years, notthat I could tell you what I have been thinking about. Theparticular reverie they cite is a fugue state I did at least twentyyears ago. I was either a praying mantis or a katydid. I can’tremember which. I went on that way for a whole summer. It waspretty good until the nights started to get cool. I’ll tell you itchanged my point of view about a lot of things. Of course, a lothas happened to me since then.” Peter Hilfenstein, currently Scrimshaw Professor of Reverie andRhetoric at Green University in Providence and author of theauthoritative study, “REM, Reverie and RPM” says that he isdelighted with the selection. “No one can touch Alan’s fugue‘states. There’s been nothing like it since Bach. What’s soastounding is the logic, the clarity, the strictness, almostasperity, exploding into a fabulous realm of freedom. Animate,inanimate, organic, inorganic, it makes no difference to Alan. He’s even done plastics and styrofoam. But his recent work istruly staggering. He started doing... read more

The Vuck Stops Here

Although it has never been seen, scientists are in no doubt aboutthe existence of the northern unspotted vuck. “It’s like abiological version of the Stealth bomber,” says Dr. AlbertTollinger of the University of Minnesota, “with two distinguishingpoints. First of all, it works. Second, far from being harmful ordangerous, it may in the long run prove very beneficial to man. Ithink we can state categorically that, even if many humans areanti-vuck, the vuck is not anti-human.” Dr. Seth Guildenlily of Harvard University agrees with Dr.Tollinger. “There’s no doubt about the vuck. The vuck is forreal. The evidence is overwhelming. Dr. Tollinger has done agreat service for science. He was the first one to notice and he’shad to put up with a lot. Acceptance never comes easy when it’s aquestion of a fundamental discovery that calls for a paradigmshift.” Dr. Regis Spikenard of Yale concurs. “We don’t have all the piecesof the puzzle yet, but we can see the outline. There is no doubtthat the vuck has evolved along with man, that the evolution hasbeen faster than we biologists thought possible, or that it is nowin serious danger. The vuck is not just one little black airbornenocturnal creature who probably has a huge cerebellum and veryadvanced frontal lobes. The significance of the vuck goes farbeyond the vuck itself. We don’t need to see it. It’s enough thatwe’ve inferred it. If we lose the vuck, we’ve lost the wholeballgame.” “I’m excited about it,” exclaimed Dr. Spikenard. “I’m passionateabout it. I’m committed. And so are the kids. Anyone who caresabout the future, has not just to care about the vuck, but to loveit.... read more


She went up early, three weeks before the solstice. She sat in the green Adirondack chair on the front lawn. She wrestled it forward until it was just three or four yards back from the staircase that led down to the dock. She did this herself even though it was very hard for her. She went out to sit in it after the morning fog had lifted, so that she could look out on the ocean and track with her eyes how it shifted between blues and grays, mingled them and then veered off in one direction or another, towards spangled bright or towards a more solemn sullen uniformity of dull. She may have been in pain sitting there, but the pain had become such a constant companion that she wasn’t always aware of it. Sometimes when it dimmed, she was surprised to notice that she missed it. She knew that she didn’t have that much time left. It wasn’t about measuring it. She just knew it, but didn’t tell anyone. What would be the point of telling them, anyway? This was personal. It was private. It was the last intimacy that she had with herself within herself. When you hurt for a long time, you started to see yourself as nothing more or less than a peculiar illusion. She thought of her rages and her lusts, of the different bodies she had worn, of the bodies that had come forth from hers. Her four children bobbed on the water like buoys. They were no different than the other buoys that marked anchorages in the harbor. She found herself... read more


Pascal was five that summer, a demiurge of childhood, unconscious of the life and beauty that brimmed over in him and spilled on everyone who came near, causing each one to smile his or her own smile, compound of memory and desire, of impudent hopes and impossible regrets, as if the most delicate issues in the past were still undecided, waiting for the movement that would release them. He had a dimpled smile that came easily and quick deep blue eyes that held no shame.He was rarely still. Nothing seemed to offend him. I was not quite four times his age, young, too, although I felt very old then, as if I carried great weights whose names I did not know on my back and had no hope of putting them down, as I could hardly tell them apart from myself. I have lost so much of what weighed on me and feel the poorer for it, for freedom can impoverish, rob us of definition, even of aspiration. I am sixty-one years old, a solid citizen who still retains an imagination and a feeling that he is subversive even as everything around him subverts him just as it sustains him. In my mind Pascal remains forever five. Suppose he is still alive and forty-five -years old. Inconceivable. Suppose he is dead. Also inconceivable. He lives in my mind and remains five years old. But there is another possibility. Suppose he is alive and a father or even a grandfather and from him or from one who has come from him there has sprung another little boy, another Pascal, not... read more

What The Nutcracker Never Guessed

Chapter 1: The Okanogan Sometimes it was hard to get to the house in the high remote Okanogan in the winter. In the summer, when the sun was tawny gold as the head of a lion in a powder blue sky, they whizzed along the black ribbon of the road and got there in just a little bit more than three hours. Sometimes it seemed to Elise they got there too fast. The trip went by so quickly that she didn’t have time to get ready. She didn’t have time to let go of the city and take hold of the different kind of place that was the rugged old Okanogan. But in late December when snow was falling in the Cascades, it was a different story. They had to stop and put chains on all four tires of the car to help its wheels hold the road. Even though it seemed that the trip might take forever, it was a beautiful trip. Everywhere there was white and the slowness was like the slowness of a story, the slowness of a dream. It made Elise glad to get away from the city and to be alone with her own thoughts and the sky and the mountains. She could leave most of her sorrows behind in the city and bring along only the hopes that were so close to her heart that they filled her with fear and wonder. Elise had the idea already that her sorrows and her hopes were sisters. Like sisters, they could bear to be apart for a while without losing their connection. Underneath they were... read more
Share This