I've finally had a chance to read the first couple chapters of Marly Youmans' Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. People will inevitably call it Faulknerian – it's Deep South, it's hot, it's told through the lens of a boy who's neurologically atypical. And it's got fruit and blood. But if you have any spiritual antennae at all, you'll quickly grasp that it's anti-Faulkner. There's fullness, not emptiness, in back of everything.
And the story is backwards, too. Christianity first made its way by claiming the crucifixion and resurrection as the answer to evil. But this novel turns that upside down: in this the novel the crucifixion (at least) is the evil that must be answered. Pip knows at once, in his chaotic, inarticulate way, that everyone is responsible for the death of his brother. The question is, how do you find your way, hobbled with knowing that? Christianity here is the question, not the answer.
Fun fact: only about 75% of people in my new zip code, 97220, speak English at home. Behind me, a conversation in a tonal language – Vietnamese, I think, though it might be Chinese: my ear for these languages is very poor. I find I'm still defensive and unhappy about having failed to learn Chinese. I'm a smart-ass and a showoff, academically: I don't take shit offa nobody and I don't give up on learning anything. Except Chinese. (And its distant cousin Tibetan.) I devoted years to those languages, and I remember absolutely nothing, not a single word, of either one.
High walls against the sky, dust blowing up into my face, the faint sour smell of lichen.
Jessie, sleepy, wearing a turquoise cardigan over a hot pink shirt, her hair swarming like an amiable Medusa's. She looks as though she just rolled out of bed, grabbed a coffee pot, and went straight into battle, taking orders and refilling cups. I'll take the time to wake up later, she seems to have said to herself. I find her adorable. I do worry that she doesn't get enough sleep. But I've never seen her irritated or fussed: whatever she bases her sense of herself on , it isn't the ups and downs of waiting tables.
I want about five more clients. I imagine writing fan letters to fifty Portlanders I admire, enclosing gift certificates. Super-targeted marketing. Would that net me my five? Or even one? I've been putting off advertising again, it's such a tiresome business, and I haven't needed to for a couple years. You get spoiled when that happens.