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THIS PENNSYLVANIAN LIFE
In 1956, a Paris Review interviewer said to William Faulkner, “As a writer you are said to be obsessed with violence." Faulkner answered: “That’s like saying the carpenter is obsessed with his hammer. Violence is simply one of the carpenter’s tools. The writer can no more build with one tool than the carpenter can.”
I'm not sure why I'm telling you this. Except that I want to talk about hammers, and writing, and wannabe carpenters, and the buggies and plows of this Mennonite and Amish country. And all the time I want to talk about This Pennsylvanian Life.
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When I was writing, "the plows of Mennonite and Amish country," at the top of this page, the word "plow" made me think of a John Updike story. It's called "Harv Is Plowing Now." Have you read it? Here's a little bit: "Where am I? It has ceased to matter. I am infinitesimal, lost, invisible, nothing. I leave the fire, the company of the others, and wander beyond the farthest ring, the circumference where guitar music can still be heard. Something distant is attracting me. I look up, and the stars in their near clarity press upon my face, bear in upon my guilt and shame with the strange, liquidly strong certainty that, humanly considered, the universe is perfectly transparent: we exist as flaws in ancient glass."
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