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Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Study in Contrasts: Aging, Atwood and Bradbury

How to describe an aging woman's body?  Here are two examples, starkly different, from two writers, each wonderful in their own way.

First, from Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye:
I think of Cordelia examining the growing pouches under her eyes… Gnarling has set in, the withering of the mouth; the outlines of dewlaps are beginning to be visible, down towards the chin…She drops the bath towel…looks over her shoulder, sees in the mirror the dog's-neck folds of skin above the waist, the buttocks drooping like wattles…
Next, from Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine:

She sat down next to him on the swing in her nightgown, not slim the way girls get when they are not loved at seventeen, not fat the way women get when they are not loved at fifty, but absolutely right, a roundness, a firmness, the way women are at any age, he thought, when there is no question.

Hard to imagine a more stark contrast, eh? And that's the wonder of good writing, folks!



Tricia J. O'Brien said...

How I love both of these authors. "Gnarling" is an amazing word choice, and "when there is no question" is a wonderful insight.
Thanks for sharing these.

- said...

Gnarling could be the most interesting gerund of all!