May 19, 2004

Homesick in an amputated landscape

I missed the shape in the near and far distance, of mountains, what was so grotesquely absent in the Midwest. I could never shake the idea that there must have been some kind of mutilation, an amputation, to reduce a countryside to such awful flatness. The clouds over the lake could only do so much for so long in a day to masquerade as landforms.
  *     *     *     *     *
I wanted to know if, after all the years away, she felt the same, if she missed the comfort, the safety, of the mountains.

from Disobedience, by Jane Hamilton
Disobedience is a Bookcrossing book -- an exercise in serendipity and literary addiction -- when I've finished with it, either I'll give it to someone else in particular, or just leave it in a public place to find its next reader on its own. I haven't decided yet.

I like Hamilton's description of the Midwestern plains as something mutilated -- as they are from the perspective of the narrator, a Vermont-born teen. For Henry, it isn't just about physical safety, living in the city instead of smaller, wilder places. What really scares him is seeing that his family is changing, and the safe, child's world he lived in as a boy is slipping away.

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