Looking for a bookmark last night, I found an index card with a quote on it, from Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin of a Lion, which is one of my favorite novels of all times.:

“The first sentence of every novel should be: ‘Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.’ Meander if you want to get to town.”

Despite how elusive achieving “order” feels to me (and despite how much I prefer to just write lyrical ephemera), I want to be able to provide reassurance, order that is at least “very faint, very human” and I want the reader to trust the storyteller/narrator.

I want to learn how. I’m eager to learn how, as hard as it is and as much as (why?) it terrifies me.

In The Skin of A Lion

Cover of the first edition

I’m re-reading and pondering Michael Ondaatje’s book, In The Skin of A Lion.  I love this book. For me, this is a book to read again and again, to study and learn from.  This novel is an open apprenticeship.  Any good novel might be like that: think about which novel yours might be.  This one speaks to me.

Tonight, this passage from p. 157 seems like one definition of community:

“Alice had once described a play to him in which several actresses shared the role of heroine.  After half an hour the powerful matriarch removed her large coat from which animal pelts dangled and she passed it, along with her strength, to one of the minor characters.  In this way even a silent daughter could put on the cloak and be able to break through her chrysalis into language.  Each person had their moment when they assumed the skins of wild animals, when they took responsibility for the story.”