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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

A couple paragraphs from “The Effects of Light”

More and more lately, I’ve been noting great paragraphs or moments in books. I just finished The Effects of Light by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. I enjoyed it (I enjoyed it more after I figured out who was connected to who.) and want to share two things that stuck with me.

Page 140

“Soon Myla found herself in the kitchen with Jane, preparing dinner as the men sat in the living room, drinking beer and watching a basketball game. Myla had met a lot of academic women disgusted by such gender division, and she’d always publicly agreed with them, acknowledging that all their careers existed only because their mothers had fought for liberation from apron strings. She’d openly criticized girls her own age who’d given up promising careers for families. But during each of these conversations, she’d had to keep a secret to herself: despite all the political, moral, economic reasons to deplore “women’s work,” she loved it. She loved being in that kitchen with Jane, being ordered around by a recipe-savvy woman. The onions sizzled with lightning intensity. Myla watched Jane’s dexterity with the wooden spoon, ached to be able to arrange a plate so beautifully. She remembered past moments with Jane, moments when it was just Jane’s body she’d watch, when Jane would let go of words and simply move. Now that Myla was herself a woman, she realized she still longed for this ease.”

Page 304

“take the moment when I decided to come here. To follow you. I was standing in Mark’s apartment, in the middle of his living room. He was talking a mile a minute, peicing everything together, and I looked down at my feet. Iw as something about the way my right tennis shoe looked. I saw it and I knew. I was going to buy a plane ticket and come here. There was no element of reason in my decision. I knew that no matter what happened between us, there’d always be a before and an after. I would be changed forever. I am changed forever.”

He turned his smile to her. “And it’s funny, because people talk about moments: the moment they fell in love with someone, the moment they looked at their baby and knew they’d never be the same. Those moments are about change. My dad always tells this story about my stepmother–about how when he saw her, he just knew he’d spend the rest of his life with her. I always thought it was bullshit. I didn’t think something like that could happen in a moment. BUt now I see. It doesn’t matter if it actually happened in a moment’s time. What matters is that my father has that moment to look back at, to point to. It’s his. He can live it a millions times, can’t he?”

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