Thursday, October 26, 2023

the last book I ever read (Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie, excerpt seven)

from Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie:

A light atop the truck arriving from the local TV station illuminated the statue. All these protests had begun after the white nationalists gathered at Lee Park in 2017, and would continue until every monument had been viewed in the most skeptical light. Someone carried a sign that jabbed the darkness, though it was raised and lowered too fast to read. Two figures linked arms and briefly danced in a circle, like a Cuisinart blade whose purpose was to turn everything to pulp. It was an open question as to whether the statue of Jefferson, the father of the University of Virginia, would remain standing on the Grounds. Her thoughts raced. It was certainly possible the sculpture would be taken down, even if Jefferson was not, at the moment, in complete exile. She couldn’t fail to see the situation from another perspective that was at once valid and ludicrous; maybe a dirigible with Sally Hemings’s face on the side could hover above the heart of the place as a reminder of the way things had really been, her visage looming above the grassy lawn that stretched between the Rotunda and Cabell Hall. She could look down on everything, like Dr. T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby.

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