Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Morning Reading: Maile Meloy

Scott Martelle profiled Maile Meloy a few days ago in the Los Angeles Times. Meloy's new collection of stories, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, is gaining a lot of attention.

What got me was Meloy's explanation of how Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk most known for his poetry and politics, helped guide her work.

The strength of Meloy's stories lies in their touch of the familiar. She moves among sibling rivalry and adultery (several times), but also writes about a young woman's murder and her father's drive to learn the details, which become knives to his heart. Another story details a grandmother's drop-in visit to her grandson -- who believed the woman had died long ago. The stories share a rootedness, a sense that these could be real. And as in real life, sometimes endings are beginnings, certitude becomes tenuous and ambition can, on the cusp of attainment, turn out to be whim.

Meloy guides her writing by words she attributes to Thomas Merton, though also admits she can no longer find the exact quote. To know someone, she says, you don't look at clothes or carriage, but at the purpose of the life.

"The question of what they're living for is the central one, for me," Meloy says. "Even if they aren't really sure -- then that dilemma is the central one. If what's really important to people is on the line, then I think you have a good story."

To read the rest, click here.

Maile Meloy has two upcoming readings nearby:

in Los Angeles:
September 27, 2009
6 PM
Hotel Café
1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga
Los Angeles, CA 90028

and in Irvine:
October 15, 2009
UCI Bookstore, UCI Student Center
West Peltason and Pereira Dr.

1 comment:

madness rivera said...

What are they living for? That's great. I heart Maile.

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