I'm still in awe of his 1989 novel, "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," which contains one of the best descriptions of the swift passage of time I've ever read. The widow, 99-year-old Lucy Marsden, now in a rest home, is telling a young friend about her life and how important it is to get your stories in order.
Because a person's life, it's just about a week. You're getting dressed for school on Monday morning, Momma's two rooms off calling, 'You'll be late again, sister, and no written excuse from home this go-round, Miss Molasses in January,' and by the time you try and put your foot through your pantaloon's other leg hole, you find it hard to straighten up because you're a woman of eighty-odd and your spine, why it's rusting already.
When Gurganus teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he tells his students "to install something funny and something beautiful on every page of their work. Readers will likely stay longer. (The trick, of course, is deciding what in the world you find most amusing and gorgeous)."