Catherine Gammon is one of the writers featured in We Wanted to Be Writers and a regular contributor to this blog.
Granted, I have moved back to live at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center for six months, a perfect place for many kinds of reflection and activity, but not so much for the writing and reading of fiction. So there is just one such book by my bed, the novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell, which I am able to read in tiny snippets, much tinier than my preferred way of enjoying a large feast, all in a spacious sitting or two, or at least within a week. This reading, instead, has been going on for more than a month now, coming to feel almost timeless, perhaps like the book itself.
What to say about In the House…? Do I like it? I’m not sure. Is it fascinating? Yes. Am I curious? Yes. Are there mysteries at its dark heart? Oh, yes.
A fabulist nightmare of husband- and fatherhood? Maybe. Events and images, fears and dreams, rising from the under-conscious into the conscious mind of narrative? Could be. I keep going, with the narrator, through his many transformations, through his violence and his suffering. We are only midway through our journey. I believe he has died once or twice already. There is always a menace, sometimes outside him, always within. He continues. He is not quite alone, not quite with his strange family of wife and sons.
Meanwhile, I see waiting patiently on my shelf Radical Love, a volume of five novels by Fanny Howe, and The Diaries of Adam and Eve, from writings by Mark Twain. Soon I will add to these older titles Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam, A Fingerprint Repeated, a story collection from Jeffrey Condran (Sorrow’s wonderful publisher at Braddock Avenue Books), and Mason Radkoff’s The Heart of June, Braddock Avenue’s newest.
Oh, and then there is this: The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser (Paris Press), which I have not yet read but dip into now and then for divination—and where I recently found this:
“Part of our labor will never be done; that is one kind of immortality. It is necessary that the twenty-fifth century know that we wrote trash. It is necessary that enough be done by then so that we all be seen resisting things which have for them changed and fallen away—transitional. Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems.”
And our fiction too.
If I ever get out of the woods….
Titles from any other genres you’d recommend to Catherine?