…is what I’m doing. Today I’ve been digging through my notes for finals. What most concerns me is the concept of merit/grace in my Contemporary American fiction. These two threads try to quilt their way through the notes. The designs are so intricate, I don’t know if I understand any more or any less their commonality or their theme in this patterned state than when I first started.

Merit: As an abstract quality.
1. a. Theol. The quality (in actions or persons) of being entitled to reward from God. (OED)

Grace: Favour, favourable or benignant regard or its manifestation (now only on the part of a superior); favour or goodwill, in contradistinction to right or obligation, as the ground of a concession. Somewhat arch. of grace: as a matter of favour and not of right. in grace of: in favour of, for the benefit of. (OED)

Besides being graced enough to read Grace Paley, I’m thinking about Robert Olen Butler and the postcards. The Earl story and 9/11. Bobbi Ann Mason refilled my head with 1984, Springsteen style, the onslaught of pop culture, and the words of grace and merit still needled. Vietnam re-enters my head sewing the past onto the present and the whole picture looks a little less hilly(the house on the hill concept). Or not. DeLillo, of course, messed with the structure of body and time so that now I’m contemplating my own lack of merit in understanding the concepts of fiction and grace.