Swamplandia!

“The Chief rigged the lights for Mom’s act years and years ago, on their fourth date– he dreamed up the lights and the choreography for her show before she’d ever so much as touched an alligator. This was a popular story on our island. After she became a wrestler and started doing evening performances, he operated the follow spot…”

“You know, my father trained himself to be my mother’s sun, electrically speaking.”

That was exactly how my dad described the job of love.

-pg.246

I was stuck in a cafe. Stuck because I was sick and because my bike was tethered outside to a pole, getting thoroughly wetted by the rain. My mood hadn’t lifted above a dull hum all morning. And I didn’t bike to school when I had the chance, instead I came here. The grey sky had been full and watery while I biked the few blocks to the cafe but now it tipped over.

I pushed away thoughts of just how far behind I’m getting on my work (“How do you do it?” my friends ask sometimes about my less-than-urgent attitude toward my PhD… well this is how I do it). I would pass the time by finishing my book.

Inexpertly paced, sometimes transparent and self-conscious, I’d been a little wary of the book at the start. But today I felt my skepticism melt. Maybe it’s that today we’re in our own kind of water-world. Being rained-on, snowed-in, for city-folks, is good for us, is corrective. We have our own puddles, however brief, to dodge, to look into unexpectedly and see a nothingness.

But mainly, it’s like the author finally came to be possessed by her own fantasy. There’s a denseness and an ease present in the last half of the book that didn’t feel like it was quite there in the first. And I fell completely within it.

Our eyes met. I looked up, still swaying from my fistfuls of the stolen dress. What I saw inside them was all landscape: no pupil or colored hoop of iris but the great swamp– the islands, the saw-grass prairies. Long grass seemed to push onward for miles inside the depths of her eyes. Inside each oval I saw a world of saw grass and no people. Believe me– I know how that must sound. But I stood there and watched as feathery clouds blew from her left eye behind the bridge of her nose and appeared again in her right socket. I saw a nothing that rolled forward forcefully forever. There was nobody in the ether of either white sky.

-pg.364

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