Thursday, August 15, 2013

the last book I ever read (Mary Coin by Marisa Silver, excerpt nine)

from Marisa Silver's Mary Coin:

Empire, California. Another town. When Walker arrives in a new place, he knows without ever having been there how it will be laid out. Historically, certain areas, often the north or the west sides, were typically the wealthiest, and if any remnants of architectural grandeur remain, this is where they will be. Whether there are actual train tracks or not, there is always the other side of something—a river, a gully, a dump—some division that allows a town to organize itself along class lines so that people know where they belong. Things are less insidious now than they were fifty or a hundred years ago, but the psychic territories remain.

Although there is sometimes a modestly refurbished old hotel in towns such as this one—a Mission Inn or a Pacific Arms—Walker always chooses whatever version of a Motel 6 lies off the highway. He likes the practical sterility of these places, the way the rooms seem to float in and out of time, bare stages on which scenes appear and then evaporate daily. It is June now, and the heat of the Central Valley has settled in for the duration of the summer. His room is dark. He forgoes the overhead fluorescents and turns on the bedside lamp. Somehow, the stucco-ceilinged room looks more correct in a tawdry weak light, as if shadows and obscurity are the natural characteristics that allow for what takes place in motel rooms. He phones the rest home, learns that visiting hours begin at four o’clock.

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