Thursday, August 26, 2010

Run, don't walk, to go see Winter's Bone, if it is playing anywhere near you. Spare. Haunting. Bleak. Human. Humbling. The physical world, the hills and woods of rural Missouri are a brooding presence in this film. And the characters stayed with me long after the movie was done.

It's about--among other things--poverty in backwoods America, the kind we don't usually see. The hidden-away poverty of white people. Shooting squirrels to eat them. Frying potatoes in lard. Women all wearing the same beat-up jeans and flannel shirts. You can practically smell them. Bad home dye jobs. Bad teeth. Heavy women who can fork hay and split kindling and use a power saw and dodge a punch.

Their world is lodged in my gut right now like a piece of undigested squirrel pie. I don't know what to do with it. The fine bony faces, like Abraham Lincoln's. That's C's bone structure. Long thin hands fingering a guitar or a banjo, sitting on a woodpile. My people are urban, sociable, chatty, soft. These people are flinty and taciturn, full of hidden depths. I don't know the code, but I can see that there is one.

It reminds me of the month I spent living on an Indian reservation a lifetime ago, when I got thoroughly laughed at for my citified ways. When I learned to split kindling and build a fire in a wood stove, and haul water from a creek. A month of that and I was through. No books, no magazines. There was a peace there that remains in my memory. And the people, especially the women; tough, vulnerable, wounded. They scared me a little. They move me.

My computer is in the shop and I'm trying out C's Mac to see if I would prefer to get one of those rather than the PC's I have always had. I've been working obsessively on the poetry manuscript for a few days and now it's time to turn back to the play. If anyone has an opinion about Macs vs. PC's I'd be happy to hear it.


Anonymous said...

Winter's Bone is very fine art. You are right: we rarely see portrayals of what it can be really like to live in poverty.

As far as the Mac v. PC debate: Macs are better, hands down. A question for you: do you use any software for large writing projects? I noticed that in Michael Chabon's recent books, he acknowledges his project management software. Software can be very useful to some writers, I guess. so . . if you use some software to write ( I am talking about management software, a way to track/link ideas and musings, plot, track), you might check to see if the software you use (if you use some) is available on Macs. But there is no difference. Once you go Mac, you will never go back to PC.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of portrayals of poverty, I just rewatched the first season of The Wire -- looking at it for some plotting insight -- there are a million brilliant things about The Wire . . but one of the ones most fascinating to me is how it shows poverty. We see humans living in apartments that are almost empty except for some mattresses, no sheets on the 'beds', no furniture, just humans squatting to sleep, and eating nothing but inner city junk food take out, no cooking stove or fridge. Humans really do live like that but we never see it. We imagine it happened in Dickens' time but not ours . . but it does. And one really poignant storyline shows kids caring for youngers kids, like thirteen year old boys getting a handful of five and six year olds off to school . . the big kid motivates the younger ones to obey him by threatening them with foster care, which all the children think is worse than living in empty rooms with filthy mattresses and no adults. Not many, but some real humans live that way and we rarely see it portrayed.

Lauralew said...

Hi, Allison, I was in one of your workshops at Rowe this past spring.

I definitely love Macs. Yes, they are pricier up front, but my husband has gone through 2 PC laptops in the four years I've had my MacBook, which is still going strong. His current laptop is about to give up, so for the first time he is pondering a Mac. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Some people drive Fords, others choose Hyundai. Except for the purists, computers beat typers cold. If one doesn't suit you, try another. Back up often. If you go Mac, get AppleCare. If you stay with PCs, keep a spare.

Leslie said...

I wrote a piece on my process in moving to Mac. You may check it out on our website
From the Welcome page> Hal's Stuff> "I'd Rather Switch Than Fight"

I'd be interested in what you do. Hal

Gerry T said...

There's nothing you can do on a Mac that you can't do on a PC for about half the price. Macs are good computers, and they're nice looking, but for my money, a solid PC is a better bargain.