The end of the day is at hand. A siren proclaims the closing of the factories. The changing flames of the burning rubbish piles are brighter in the twilight. Large birds, crows perhaps, reassured by the nearing solitude, appropriate the tombs: each one, I imagine, has its customary perch. At the Porte de la Villette, turning left, I took the Boulevard Serurier, deserted at an hour when the rest of the city hums with life. To my right, the railroad, the frightful trains leaving, the marvelous trains arriving, the reddish squalor of the slaughterhouses dominated in the background by Montmartre’s pearl-gray basilica. To my left, the wan facades of the last buildings of Pantin and Bobigny and the high smoke I remember from thirty years ago, when I used to play soccer in these suburbs. Everywhere, in the leprous green of the place, the stones propping up the corrugated roofs, tow-headed kids, tin cans, dog excrement. Below, the dreary network of canals and a pale child as still as they, fishing endlessly for the unknown in those soulless waters.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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