Exercise Day 3

The Passage:

Just forget for a minute that you have spectacles on your nose and autumn in your heart. Stop being tough at your desk and stammering with timidity in the presence of people. Imagine for one second that you raise hell in public and stammer on paper. You’re a tiger, a lion, a cat. You spend a night with a Russian woman and leave her satisfied. You’re twenty five. If rings had been fastened to the earth and the sky, you’d have seized them and pulled the sky down to earth. — Isaac Babel

Analysis: There’s a beautiful inversion going on here between the second and the third sentences. The sentence about the Russian woman evokes layers and layers of imagery and has layers and layers of significance — so much said, in so few words. There’s so much contrast — that second/third sentence interplay, the contrast of autumn vs. twenty-five, the timidity versus ferocity. Stylistically, the long and short sentences. Rich and sparse.


Just forget for a minute that your world is stunted and there’s grease on your hands. Stop thinking like you’ll always be fixing engines and never be good enough for the world outside this town. Imagine for one second that people pay you because they love you, and that you’re only alright with your hands. You’re buff, you’re charismatic, you’re poised. When you step out of this shop, the whole world turns and takes heed. You’re James Dean. The wind blows out your hair and the sky is damn big and the world is even bigger, and you’re only here because you want to be.

Leave a Reply