A Sharp-Edged Sword

In my novel, I’ve taken a line from my daughter and woven it into a teenager’s dialogue: “What the flip?” the adolescent says, over and over, a tepid variation of an obscenity. At a tense junction, the girl uses obscenities, hammering her dialogue like a weapon.

In our house, we have a phrase that language can be both tool and weapon. To my great satisfaction and joy, I’ve honed my literary skills as tools of beauty and hopefully some measure of illumination – but I’ve also witnessed myself parsing writing in the sharpest and most cutting of ways, with keen intent. Truth is, I can use language as either, but striking out has never brought me any pride.

On this eve of this election, may what musters as democracy in our country emerge as tool, and lessen our divisions.

People rescue each other. They build shelters and community kitchens and ways to deal with lost children and eventually rebuild one way or another.


– Rebecca Solnit




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