Great Moments in Literature

“Anna drew on the cigarette, enjoying the dry heat inside her mouth, and let the smoke scatter into the wind. It was dirty, but a dirtiness she liked — akin to the girl welders eating their lunches sitting on the floor. She and Nell smoked in silence. Anna looked across Wallabout Bay at the hammerhead crane bent against the sky. A few days before, she’d watched it lift a cement truck off the ground as if it were a die-cast toy. Beyond the crane sprawled the Williamsburg Bridge and then the low buildings on the shore of Manhattan, windows like gold flakes in the dusty sky.”

—Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach, 2017

 

FIVE WORLDS AS HEADS FROZE THE MOMENT — AND BRIDGET WAS AWED TO THAT HAIR-RAISING SILENCE ALWAYS FOLLOWING A GASP. I‘D SUCKED AIR WITH PRICKLED SCALP, TOO, THE FIRST TIME I’D SEEN IT: FIVE CONCENTRIC LAYER-WORLDS, TUCKED ONE INSIDE THE OTHER, THE CEILING OF EACH STUDDED WITH ARTIFICIAL SUNS LIGHTING THE LAYER BELOW…OCEANS OF AIR PERMITTING TRAVEL FROM ONE WORLD TO THE NEXT, AND EVEN ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE CORE. THE WHOLE THING WAS A SYMBOLIC REALIZATION OF TIME, SPACE, HISTORY’S MYSTERY, AND THAT WHICH COULD UNRAVEL THE WHOLE BALL OF YARN. AN ONION WITH FIVE LAYERS AND A NASTY CENTER — OR FIVE APPLES SHARING THE SAME WORM-RIDDEN CORE. BUT DON’T ASK ME HOW IT CAME TO BE; I HAD OTHER PROBLEMS…”

—Doug Moench, AZTEC ACE, Vol. 1, No. 1, “The Mexica Serpent,” 1984