Sunday, June 4, 2017

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, excerpt six)

from Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall:

And Cal—he’d arrived in Rio with Lizzie, five-year-old Harriet, and a “Radcliffe girl” to tend the child, only to turn garrulous and caustically opinionated, gathering velocity for yet another “attack of pathological enthusiasm,” as he preferred to view his “violent manic seizures.” There had been five breakdowns in ten years, by Cal’s reckoning, and the pattern was predictable. Elizabeth, Cal, and Lota had spent a glorious afternoon together at Cabo Frio, perched on the “very dangerous” edge of a cliff above a crater formed by jagged rocks—“just like Inferno”—mesmerized by the sight of a pair of seabirds, possibly boobies, “diving right into the wild seething foam” as the surf spilled over into the crater at high tide: “It didn’t seem possible they could fly against that wind, or see anything in that raging sea or dive so far from so high quick enough to catch anything.” When wife, daughter, and babysitter left on an ocean liner bound for New York at the end of August, Cal traveled on alone to Buenos Aires, where his mania became full blown. After tearing off his clothes and mounting equestrian statues in a city square, proclaiming himself Argentina’s Caesar, he was put in restraints and then on a plane back to the United States, heavily sedated, accompanied by a doctor and nurse and the friend, Blair Clark, who’d flown down from New York to bring him safely home.

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