Saturday, January 5, 2019

the last book I ever read (Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin, excerpt ten)

from Early Work: A Novel by Andrew Martin:

“Okay, this is actually the worst,” Julia said, though she was smiling. She looked beautiful. Thanks to endorphins, I guess, and maybe Colin, she was happy. She started swimming toward the island, kicking hard and powering onward with sharp, chopping arms. Colin glided after her, and I followed, splashing for a while in incompetent imitation of them before resorting to my usual dog padde. Kiki’s howls grew more plangent the farther we swam, and I swam on my back for a bit, watching Kiki race from one end of the dock to the other. The sound disturbed me, made my heart hurt again. I worried that she was going to fall in the water and drown trying to get back onto the dock, or trying to swim after us, and who could live with that on their conscience forever? The more I listened to her cries, the more I wanted to go back and placate her. Let Julia entertain whatever crypto-romantic fantasy she was conjuring about life on an eight-hundred-square-foot island with Colin. It would be something out of a contemporary magic realist story: A man sits with his dog and watches as his partner and his best friend take up a new life together on a desolate island a few hundred yards from shore. Years pass, and the narrator watches them build a house, catch fish, raise their children, all on this tiny uninhabited island, while he and the dog waste away in longing, back on the mainland. It had that perfect combination of not making any sense and being full to the brim with banal sentiment. I tried to ignore Kiki and kept swimming for the island. Dogs probably had something in their brains that kept them from killing themselves in most instances.

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