As I'm not sure what, although this morning, as I snooped McCullers' biography not for the first time, the phrase for pretty much all of my mothers' artistic friends and acquaintances sprang to mind
JUST THIS SIDE OF A TRAIN WRECKDid the art they often shaped so well -- McCullers and my mother and Truman Capote, for example, were all very good writers -- save them from the insane indignity of being crushed by some nameless diesel locomotive that may have been invisible to others and yet bore down on them with a certainty that made the ground shake?
Were their rack-and-pinion torture devices different from or more compelling than the slow, enormous squeezing that any soul might feel ... yet feel without the need to pick the scab or nourish it or take sustenance from it?
Was the South a greater producer not just of cotton but also of artistic lights ... the ones scraping by just this side of a train wreck?
PS. And associatively I wonder how anyone could sniff and prod the literary realms of an oncoming insane freight train and not be sucked bit by bit into giving that insanity a whirl. Rather like learning a lot about spiritual life, always sniffing and prodding and accumulating data, without actually giving it a try. I know I look back on my adventures in that way ... accumulating and accumulating and always knowing I was safe in those accumulations. There was nothing at risk. There was no put-up-or-shut-up. Until one day I simply had to try it ... to find-fucking-out!