Saturday, April 14, 2007

The sky for stories

He touches the parchment. Because of the latex gloves and the plastic cover, it feels distant. He strokes the surface of the document. How rare, and how sad. What has existed has existed, and what has been destroyed has been destroyed. What can he do to undo all of that? He is only a middle-aged bachelor. A mere translator (not even a professional translator) of languages that have ceased to matter to most people. He cannot create anything. God creates. God is the utterance and he is merely the air of language that can transmit the sound. Sad, too, to think that the page, in and of itself, has no meaning without him. He is the only one who can make sense of the thing, or who can give it sense, give it life. Maybe he is a god after all--one who rules the smallest of worlds.

All he might be able to do is breathe onto the page as onto a stunned bird he once held as a child. It had flown into a window and he picked it up. It was lifeless, still. His father, unconcerned, said "Blow on it. Like you're warming your hands." He did, cupping the finch and blowing, slowly, with all his hope and hot breath. The finch revived, sat in the nest of his hands for a second, and suddenly flew into the trees. For the document, though, there is no sky into which it can climb. Because, for stories, the sky is made of the endless dome of readers and freckled with constellations of the kindly and curious.

--David Treuer, The Translation of Dr Apelles


  1. Ooooooooo! I'm so excited that you've started to read it now. Isn't it wonderful and marvellous? (Note: Must calm down when conversing about this book.)

  2. No, you don't have to calm down, imani. I understand completely.

    Why hasn't this book received scads of attention???? Other than you and one woman at Readerville (who had it at the top of her reads for 2006), I don't know of anyone who's read it.

  3. I don't know. :/ I read about it Boldtype. Hopefully when the paperback comes out next spring (it got pushed back from the Fall 2007) that will boost its profile.

  4. Repeats "has" "do" "God" really blow that open. I've never heard of being able to revive birds like that.

    The Hood Company


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.