Description. A Dying Art.
“In my life as a writer I often remind myself – comfort myself – with what William Faulkner said about The Sound and the Fury. The whole novel, he claimed, hung on one image, the glimpse of a little girl's muddy underpants seen from the ground as she climbed a tree. How can an entire world spin off so small and incidental a hub? Can it be possible that Faulkner conceived his masterpiece from this tiny, grubby moment?”
“I imagine most writers of novels begin with such a fragment, a shard of experience so compelling, so troubling and unavoidable – always there, on the periphery of consciousness – that around it he or she must construct an elaborate world. This world, the novel, is not merely a container or a means of filing the image away but an attempt to make it comprehensible, and to guard its power.”
– Kathryn Harrison, author of The Seal Wife, in her essay for The New York Times, “When Inspiration Stared Stoically from an Old Photograph.”