As previously stated in class: occasionally, I come across a line or two in a piece of writing which makes me pause and say “damn.” Additionally, concepts can stop me with the same effect. Of the assigned readings, “Precious, Disappearing Things” and AVA by Carole Maso, made me stop the most.
“Precious, Disappearing Things” and AVA are both geared towards creativity. In “Precious, Disappearing Things,” Maso reflects on what inspired AVA and what AVA is. She says she “tried to create a place to breathe sweet air, a place to dream” (68). While reading “Precious, Disappearing Things,” I get the feeling that Maso wants to slow down with AVA, wants to have time to think and be. This feeling is underscored by Maso saying “When my mother was reading stories I would often wander out to the night garden, taking one sentence… out there with me to dream over, stopping… the incessant march of the plot forward to the inevitable climax” (69). We are infrequently able to isolate any fragment of a story and ponder it as an individual entity. That would be too anti-climactic, too slow, too insignificant.
AVA can be thought of largely as an amalgamation of significant afterthoughts and impulses, P.S.’s and Post-it Notes. There is a subliminal, central text present throughout the story which presents itself via reoccurring themes and shifts in language and style. The first theme I noticed was vegetation: violets, roses, wild sage, night jasmine, genet, and dogs named Lilly. At the beginning of AVA, olives are briefly mentioned surrounding Ava’s birth. Right before olives are mentioned for the last time, the narrator switches to the past tense for about 15 lines, switching back to present tense at “Night jasmine. Already?” I took this change in tense to signify either the passing of Ava’s mother or the end of Ava’s nonexistence in the world. Shortly before the tenses switch back, a new theme is introduced: the sea.
The theme of the sea takes place in Ava’s late youth and flourishes into her early adulthood. I keyed in on two possible reasons for the inclusion of water. The first reason being that Ava has a deeply seeded love of the ocean. At one point, the narrator can be quoted saying, “Our destination in those days was always the sea.” I can see Ava yearning to exist by the ocean, to step in it and let it flow around her. The second reason being that Ava conceives. “And he is here in front of me asking, Qu’est-ce que tu bois [What do you drink]? / Blood and seawater have identical levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.” The more I think about this quote, the more I am sure it is relevant to pregnancy, but I am unable to completely wrap my head around it.
In “Precious, Disappearing Things,” Maso talks of not being able to appreciate the little, important things in an ordinary narrative. She then segues into saying “Come quickly, there are finches at the feeder” (67), which initially just seems like a quirky way reinforcing her point. However, towards the beginning of AVA, the phrase “come quickly,” is repeatedly used, as well as “Ava Klein, you are a rare bird,” and variations thereof. Additionally, “Come quickly, there are finches at the feeder,” is said verbatim. While reading AVA, I immediately started noticing some patterns and keying in on them. I almost immediately picked up on the vegetation and sea themes, but I didn’t see the finches at the feeder until I read the standalone line “A rare bird.”