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  • Writer's pictureKamille D. Whittaker

Excerpt: Time, and Other Matters

For the living.

A gorgeous excerpt from John Edgar Wideman's "Art of Story," in The New Yorker

"Stories are graves. Empty. Nothing there. All living and dying in them fake. Pretend. No story unless someone reads, tells it. Empty. No one’s time inside a story. Time needed to live and die, to tell stories. But stories not time. Stories graves. No entering or leaving them without time. Nothing breathing inside them. Lost nor found. No time. Only stories. Only words. Pretend words. Pretend time.

Pretend to enter, to leave, to begin. Make yourself believe you create time, are time. Contained by time. Contain time. As if time not a story you make up. Believe. As if time not a word like others you make up to tell a story . . . Once upon a time . . . as if time might end or begin, as if time waits in a story or is something like stories. As if a story contains time, or is contained by time. As if time stops or leaves or catches up or begins in stories. As if words tell time and time listens or reads. As if stories are not graves. Where we play dead. Play with the dead.

As if the something words make of nothing is time. More time. Somewhere. Time and not a story. Not fiction. Not a grave. Make believe somewhere, something saved by telling, listening, reading. A tangible somewhere and time something that might accumulate, count. More time. More than time. Not nothing. Words. Stories. More."


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