Thursday, February 12, 2009


Holy moley, this woman can WRITE. I'm loving Diane Ackerman's A Slender Thread. Her description of calls she receives at the crisis hot line is riveting. The organization she works for provides telephone suicide prevention service. Her ability to listen and then recreate the conversations is remarkable.

Here's a sample (I've changed the formatting since it's such a long sentence, but all the words are hers):

Listening athletically, with one’s whole attention, one hears the words, the sighs, the sniffling, the loud exhalations, the one-beat-longer-than-normal pause before a difficult or taboo word,
the voice-fall of misgiving,
the whittling of worry,
the many diphthongs of grief,
the heavy tongue of drunkenness,
the piled ingots of guilt,
the quiet screeching of self blame,
the breathlessness of fear,
the restless volcano of panic,
the fumings of stifled rage,
the staccato spasms of frustration,
the sidestepping anger of the “yes, but”-ers,
the tumbling ideas of the developmentally disabled,
the magic dramas of the hallucinator,
the idea shards of the psychotic,
the harrowed tones of the battered,
the bleak deadpan of the hopeless,
the pacing of the ambivalent,
the entrenched gloom of the depressed,
the distant recesses of loneliness,
and anxiousness that is like a wringing of the hands.

Diane Ackerman, A Slender Thread

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