Tag Archives: Autobiography

Three Paragraphs of Misadventure

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. The wife accused me of tossing out the leftovers when I’d cleaned the kitchen the other night. They’re in the fridge, I said, you just haven’t looked hard enough. But no, they were not in the fridge. Impossible, I said, I remember very clearly taking the glass container from the cupboard, putting the rest of the curried chicken inside, sealing it closed …and putting it right back into the cupboard again, where, thank God, it’s still safe.

What Dreams May Come, Barefoot and in a Bathrobe. It was a chilly morning. On the platform below, just as my commuter train was pulling away, I saw a man in a plaid bathrobe. He was maybe fifty years old, graying, barefoot, but otherwise well-groomed. He didn’t appear to be homeless. He walked ten quick paces, stopped, and lifted up the hem of his robe. He reached down toward his wiggling toes in slow-motion disbelief. Only then did he realize it wasn’t a dream.

Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Squid. I was eating lunch at the local Japanese ramen shop, lifting a spoonful of precious broth to my lips. Just then, from the next room, came a colossal crash. Someone had dropped a bank safe, a quarter-ton barbell, or the frozen corpse of a rhino, and the whole room shook. The broth, in which drops of squid ink were suspended, splattered across my shirt. From beyond the grave, the bitter cephalopod had taken its revenge.

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For the Birds

The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is autobiography.

~ Oscar Wilde, from his ‘Preface’ to The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Does it follow that autobiography is always a form of criticism?  Criticism of personal experience?  There’s a superficial satisfaction in the reversal.  The merely confessional, in that case, would make up criticism at its lowest.  The rigorously reflective, its highest.  Or perhaps Wilde would disagree.

Robins scour the suburban lawns two hours before sunset.  Between the door and the mailbox yesterday I counted five: three males, two females.  One hopped ahead of me on the concrete walk and I thought for a moment he was leading me somewhere, that I was supposed to follow.  All were perfectly silent and watchful, hunting insects through the little forests of grass, intimately concerned with my intent; cautious, hungry.

Do birds engage in criticism or indulge in autobiography?  Is gravity nothing more than the weight of self-concern that prevents us chasing them into the willows?

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