Neither Jessie’s mother nor Jessie herself, it seemed, had expected my kind of poetry class. It had come to her attention that I had given the girls a poem by, long breath, “D. H. Lawrence.” The writer’s name alone, it appeared, augured peril for the heretofore-unpollinated imaginations of the Bonden flowers. When I explained that “Snake” was a poem about a man attentively watching the animal and his guilt for frightening it, her jaw locked. “We have our beliefs,” she said. The woman did not look stupid. She looked dangerous. In Bonden, a rumor, a bit of gossip, even outright slander could spread with preternatural speed. I mollified her, asserting my great respect for beliefs of all kinds—an outright lie—and by the end of our conversation, I felt I had assuaged her worries. One sentence has stayed with me, however: “God is frowning on this, I tell you. He’s frowning.” I saw him, Mrs. Lorquat’s own God the Father filling the sky, a clean-shaven chap in a suit and tie, brow furrowed, implacably stern, an utterly humorless lover of mediocrity, God as the quintessential American reviewer.
Siri Hustvedt (2011)