Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Salvatore Scibona's THE END

I'm en route to Ashland, Oregon, and it's been a pretty hellacious travel day: a missed flight, serious turbulence, a "wind shear warning," and four hours of sitting around in LAX. The one good thing I can say about today is that I finished the novel I've been reading, THE END, by Salvatore Scibona, which was a National Book Award Finalist last year. Just at the moment any sort of architecture of praise I might attempt to build for it feels inadequate -- the book has that sort of largeness of spirit about it, as well as a remarkable sense of cadence, as well as portraits of people so ferociously drawn they feel indelible. I thought I'd just quote one paragraph here, rather more discursive than most of the book, but a passage which reveals an intimate sense of the space of childhood and the scale of memory.

"Night, for children, was more a place than a time. For a child, to wake in the night and race downstairs toward the bed of parents was to plunge into a forest from which he might never emerge. A man could never hope to fully feel again the deep night in childhood; he could at best recall the fact of it faintly. For a man of his age, nothing could be as vast as the nighttime of childhood except the extension of thought toward his distant past, where flickered, flickered, and evanesced -- My brother and I were on our knees picking the favas when a snake shot up and bit my chin; my father held me under my arms and dangled me over a well -- and the distinctness and the isolation of the flickers, the utter obscurity of what must have happened before and after, imparted to the imagined world in which they had to have taken place dimensions infinitely wider than those of the world in which he now found himself recollecting them."


Paul Lisicky said...

My God, that paragraph is fucking amazing all on its own.

Elisabeth said...

Such wonderful writing here.
And one leads to the other.
I have now encountered Paul Lisicky's wonderful writing from his comment. Two treats in one sitting, Salvatore Scribona and Paul Lisicky, through the eyes and pen of Mark D.

Paul Lisicky said...

Thank you, Elizabeth!

lu said...

This vastness of nighttime for children like the vastness of memory for adults...the obscurity and the width of it.

I keep turning this over, nodding my head, thinking, yes, that is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Wow...this book sounds amazing. I have to pick this up.

So much packed into that gripped me all together at "Night..."

Brilliant stuff.