Three Weepers

March 11, 2006

Need something to cry about? Here’s three literary works that choked me up recently:

  • The Lanyard, a poem by Billy Collins. Especially effective when read in Garrison Keillor’s velvety, earnest, radio voice. Like you’re sitting on his knee, spellbound. Scroll down half the page to get there.
  • She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
    and I gave her a lanyard.

  • Letter to Alex and Chris, Twelve Years in the Future, a blogger’s open letter to her sons, describing the kind of man she hopes they’ll grow up to be. Not for the faint. (Thanks, Erika!)
  • “And when the road ends here, my sweet boys, I beg you to remember my words, and the example of Hugh Thompson: It is your duty to protect those who can not protect themselves.”

  • Silence, a short story in Alice Munro’s book Runaway. This story punched me in the gut. A woman has a single child, and once the daughter reaches adulthood, she severs ties with her mother, offering no explanation. Simply absence. Jonathon Franzen reviewed Munro’s collection, and I agree:

    “When I’m in need of a hit of real writing, a good stiff drink of paradox and complexity, I’m likeliest to encounter it in short fiction.