I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self-respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her, and it is the beginning of everything.
The world is yours to write about. Any thing will be holy if you make it so.
I would say that this is precisely the effect that Saunders’s fiction has on you. It “softens the borders,” as he put it in one of our conversations. “Between you and me, between me and me, between the reader and the writer.” It makes you wiser, better, more disciplined in your openness to the experience of other people. The guy talking on the bus about how his girlfriend doesn’t appreciate his music and why couldn’t she just cut him that much slack, seeing how he just did all that time? The couple in the basement of the Port Authority, the wife helping her husband get into his Grover costume before he stepped out onto 42nd Street. The woman, one recent morning, who screamed at panhandlers on the subway that it was the day after Christmas and why couldn’t they just give us all some peace? “Peace on Earth,” she hollered. “Is that so much to ask for? Get off the train.” She went on for a while, and some other passengers started to turn on her. “I’m right!” she yelled. “I’m right.” And then her face took on the saddest expression.
It’s hard to maintain, the softness.