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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nicodemus Bluff

“Now there is something for tomorrow. What are women like? What is time like? Most people, you might notice, walk around as if they are needed somewhere, like the animals out at the shelter need me. I want to look into this.”

And so ends “Nicodemus Bluff” by Barry Hannah, this story that’s a little bit stream-of-consciousness and very realistic, but with this nightmarish undercurrent that’s so pervasive and strong that I couldn’t finish reading it before bed. It’s about a little boy, now a drug addict, whose barely literate father is an incredible chess player and adopts the persona of a 18th century court lady when he plays. WHAT? WHO THINKS OF THAT? Oh and there’s an old black man whose owner shot him and buried him under the bluff. Nicodemus Bluff, capiche? So frightening and good. The dialogue is near perfect:

“Are you drunk now, Mr. Kervochian?”

“Yes, son, I am.”

“Please don’t scare me.”

“I’m sorry. Pay no attention to me. I can get sober in just three minutes, though, boy.”

GAWJUS!

I love stories where you’re like, That is the weirdest thing ever but I’m so glad you came up with it because otherwise I would have lived the rest of my life without ever imagining it. And I’m not talking about weird for the sake of weird for the sake of experimental—Max from English 207, I’m looking at you.

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