Winter Reflections on Writing Squat- by Taylor Field
February 28, 2007, 3:27 am
Filed under: From Taylor Field, Squat News

From Taylortaylor.gif:

Winter is the best time to remember summer. I wrote the novel Squat on cold Saturday mornings, when no one else was in the office, when silence would put its arms out and eak in its own thin way. I wanted to be quiet enough for the buildings themselves to speak. With a little attentiveness, the bricks, the tenements, the “squats” on my block would remember the sweating hopes and fears of those who once slept there. Many of those who slumbered in these once-humid rooms in abandoned buildings have already died. They seem to be almost completely forgotten now. Somehow it is easier for me to remember their voices when it is snowing outside my window. “When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters,” the pastor in Marilynne Robinson’s recent novel writes. When I am at my job as a pastor in the city, and I am dealing with the bric-a-brac of doing “community service,” it is sometimes more difficult to remember the larger story. In a sense, the main character, Squid, a squatter, is listening for some story that will give meaning to his compulsive, lonely life.The novel, Squat, takes place within twenty-four hours. At one point, an older alcoholic named Unc proclaims Miles Davis, musical improviser and occasional boxer, to be the patron saint of the day. Squid’s day is not like a symphony. It is like jazz. The day is not a pre-planned march. It is a sparring match. Anything could happen.

The novel is a specific retelling of a biblical story, perhaps my favorite story in the Bible. It is not an exact retelling. It is more like a piece of music, where a musical idea is taken up and developed, but every note is not the same as the notes in the original tune. Of course one wonders if Squid will make it through the day and survive the rancor of a small-time drug dealer. But on another level, the book is a question about Squid himself. Will he remain a bundle of squalid randomness, or become a part of some wider, truer story?

Squid’s dilemma is my dilemma. Will I get trapped in my own sordid little story of may own making, or will I find myself swept up in a grander drama, a real drama, beyond my imagining? The answer lies in Squid’s name.


1 Comment so far
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Boy, I don’t understand this, but it sounds interesting and maybe even profound. I know Taylor is the real deal!

Comment by Ruth Ann KIng

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