“You fought us hard here.” Tormund turned his garron back toward the wildling camp. “You and your brothers. I give you that. Two hundred dead, and a dozen giants. Mag himself went in that gate o’ yours and never did come out.”
“He died on the sword of a brave man named Donal Noye.”
“Aye? Some great lord was he, this Donal Noye? One of your shiny knights in their steel smallclothes?”
Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you need happy endings, these stories aren’t for you. The women are nearly all left in liminal space—speeding down a highway, floating in a night-time quarry, riding in the windy bow of a lobster boat, forever searching the faces of addicts and prostitutes for a mother’s face. Noyes doesn’t offer tidy solutions for her protagonists’ struggles. Some readers will be turned off by this open-endedness and lack of redemption; other readers may find the stories depressing. But for many, these tender and brutal stories will pierce your core like a hook in the gut, shimmering with raw pain and heartache and the desperate desire to survive. Because despite the darkness in these stories, the women and girls within always discover something about themselves and grow a little bit stronger. They’re sometimes thoroughly lost, maybe irrevocably damaged, and uncertain what to do next, but in Noyes’s talented hands, you’re left with the certainty that these tough and wild and messed-up women are going to figure it out. They’re going to be okay.
The child is the first artist. Out of the material around him he creates a world of his own.
Carleton Noyes, The Gate of Appreciation, 1907 (He continues: “His play is his expression. He creates; and he is able to merge himself in the thing created. In his play he loses all consciousness of self… Then comes a change…. Imagination surrenders to the intellect; emotion gives place to knowledge. Gradually the material world shuts in about us until it becomes for us a hard, inert thing, and no longer a living, changing presence, instinct with infinite possibilities of experience and feeling… It happens, unfortunately for our enjoyment of life, that we get used to things. Little by little we come to accept them, to take them for granted, and they cease to mean anything to us… Unless the world is new-created every day… unless each new day is a gift and new opportunity, then we cannot interpret the meaning of life nor read the riddle of art. For we cannot truly appreciate art except as we learn to appreciate life.”)