Primo Levi, “The Fugitive”

9780393064681_custom-91d401ecc86e59b281202d6e8c8a88ba207821f3-s6-c30A man writes a poem he thinks is nearly perfect. If only it would sit still.

(from A Tranquil Star)

To Pasquale, too, if had happened only a few times, and the awareness of having a poem in his mind, ready to be caught in flight and fixed on a page like a butterfly, had always been accompanied by a curious sensation, by an aura like that which precedes epileptic fits: each time, he had heard a faint whistle in his ears, and a ticklish shiver ran through him from head to foot.

This story gave me a kind of writerly agita, an itchy feeling that I should be writing instead of reading at that moment. There’s a certain dread I think everybody has, that an idea which pops into our head seemingly from nowhere will disappear before we can memorize it or put good it to good use.

I couldn’t find this story online for ya. I do recommend this collection. Most of the stories are quick, idiosyncratic and vaguely informed by science if not sci-fi. By the way: I think I learned “agita” from my late Aunt Angie, who used to Italianicize my name to Pasquale.

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