So if you’re feeling old(er) or trapped or just tapped out, The Hours is probably the worst thing to read. Or maybe it’s the best thing, because you get stuff like this, which will destroy you but then make you want to pick up that gauntlet Michael Cunningham has thrown:

There she is…the old beauty, the old hippie, hair still long and defiantly gray, out on her morning rounds in jeans and a man’s cotton shirt, some sort of ethnic slippers (India? Central America?) on her feet. She still has a certain sexiness; a certain bohemian, good-witch sort of charm; and yet this morning she makes a tragic sight, standing so straight in her big shirt and exotic shoes, resisting the pull of gravity, a female mammoth already up to its knees in the tar, taking a rest between efforts, standing bulky and proud, almost nonchalant, pretending to contemplate the tender young grasses on the far bank when it is beginning to know for certain that it will remain here, trapped and alone, after dark, when the jackals come out.