George Saunders on death

“Any story circling around the idea of death is going to be charged. But I would also say that I’m interested in getting myself to believe that it’s going to happen to me. I’m interested in it, because if you’re not, you’re nuts. It’s really de facto what we’re here to find out about. I hate the thought of messing around and then being like, ‘Oh, I’ve got pancreatic cancer.’ It’s terrifying. It’s terrifying to even think of. But to me, it’s what you should be thinking about all the time. As a fiction writer, the trick is how to be thinking about it in a way that makes it substantial. You want it to matter when you do induce it.”

What’s New

hay bales It turns out, hay bales give considerably when you leap across them. Their shape compromises with the soles of your sneakers. I never scaled hay bales as a kid but doing so this weekend made me feel young again. More accessible than a tree, anyway.

Cows, it turns out, are quick. Their open faces and slow jaws belie a rather frightening agility, given their size. I heard a cow moo from a distance and thought, oh my God, it sounds like a cell phone, instead of the other way around.

We spent time during sunset on Saturday shooting arrows into the soft sides of hay bales, our target a piece scrap paper fished from the truck—the paper remained unpierced. He flew a remote helicopter toy-drone that took pictures of us. We moved locations, beside a show-off of a tree, and shot a rifle at a tennis ball we could barely see from our distance. Again, we missed. We turned the laser on and laughed at how unable we were to remain still. We agreed not to talk about our failures, made steak in cast iron skillets with goat cheese, and she put extra chocolate chips in the brownies she baked from a mix, which I drank with a glass of whole milk.

The next day, my legs itched from the hay and my peace-sign fingers ached because I’d been gripping too tightly. I laughed with her, saying, It’s a metaphor.