Friday, August 20, 2010

Noted: Coleman Dowell

From his 1976 novel, Island People:
"Look," she had said, commending the day to him, "how beautifully new." Sulky, he replied, "I've seen it before." She told him — peculiar that he could recall each word, perhaps because the words were peculiar in such quantity from her, but he imagined later that she had known she was to die in a matter of days ("Be precise if you can"—"Yes, Mother"), in four days' time. She told him, "You have never seen this place before," and when he looked at her, frightened, for it was their own woodland they walked in, she said: "Never, never, never have the leaves bent precisely so in the wind; never has the sedge faced us from just that angle of the bog; never has decay been at this particular point visible on the wood of the fence, tree; never has this peculiar collection of detritus edged the road; never have so many, so precisely many, leaves hung dead at the same time, nor has the illusion of blue between been so precisely this blue, never." But it was not hindsight that told him of her impending death. It was language, her use of language, the mystery of language itself. She had, in an odd way, herself become a Bach structure, knowing that she would not, with woefully inadequate ghost hands, be able to find particular oblivion. He, surely her instrument on that day, as later, responded to her sureness by learning all that he was meant to know in his persona as sonata verging on nocturne.

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