Sunday, December 27, 2015

Where the grain lies

​​"...At first Anders continued to tell her what he knew, under his breath. Sometimes he was a tourist guide, sometimes a sawmill manager. He could, for instance, have told her about Defects in Timber. ‘Cup shake’ is a natural splitting between two of the annular rings. ‘Star shake’ occurs when there are fissures radiating in several directions. ‘Heart shake’ is often found in old trees and extends from the pith or heart of the tree towards its circumference.

….When the heart breaks, he thought, it splits like timber, down the full length of the plank. In his first days at the sawmill he had seen Gustaf Olsson take a piece of solid timber, drive in a wedge, and give the wedge a little twist. The timber broke down the grain, from end to end.

That was all you needed to know about the heart: where the grain lay. Then with a twist, with a gesture, with a word, you could destroy it.”

Page 37, ‘The Story of Mats Israelson’, from ‘The Lemon Table’, Julian Barnes

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