These autumn days hold the dim shortness I remember from this time of year as a child in New England, but the air this afternoon lay almost balmy, redolent with wet earth, like spring. Driving to meet my children at school, a sudden wind blew up violently, throwing dry leaves in the air, bits of twig, the abrupt rain nearly sideways against the windshield. The clouds spun darkly.
Looking up through the glass at crows tossing in the unsteady air currents, suddenly I realized the heart of the book I’m writing is about light and shadow. I pulled over at an ugly patch of Hardwick – a mini-storage – and ran to the center of the parking lot. The rain bit at my eyes, and the wind spun in a gyre with shreds of trees and plastic debris. I closed my eyes and thought of those Salinger stories I had been reading last night; I imagined each of those stories in their own entity – with Teddy and Esme and the Laughing Man – circling around.
Just as abruptly, the wind ceased. I stood for just a moment more, thinking of those stories, as full as any story could possibly be, with layers of shadow and light, story beneath story.
Between Third and Lexington, she reached into her coat pocket for her purse and found the sandwich half. She took it out and started to bring her arm down, to drop the sandwich into the street, but instead she put it back into her pocket. A few years before, it had taken her three days to dispose of the Easter chick she had found dead on the sawdust in the bottom of her wastebasket.
–– Salinger, “Just Before the War with the Eskimos”