by Albert Sánchez Piñol
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 (182p)
This beautiful, nearly perfect book held me in its thrall for the entirety of the two days it took me to read it. It has the haunting quality of a dream: it’s half nightmare, half bliss, frighteningly mingled such that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. The story begins as a young European man who has elected to exile himself from his home lands on the remote island on which he is to be stationed for the next year monitoring the weather on a government assignment. He finds the cabin he is to inhabit in shambles and the man he is supposed replace vanished. Upon investigating the nearby lighthouse, he meets Grunner, gruff and possibly insane. That night, he learns, through horrifying experience, that the island is also inhabited by bloodthirsty humanoid amphibian creatures who attack any source of meet on the island in frenzied packs. I won’t tell you much more—this is, first, an adventure story; it brings to my mind other shipwreck tales that I’ve liked: Malamud’s God’s Grace, the acclaimed Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Let me say, though, that there is a woman-amphibian involved, and that the novel graphically explores the human impulses toward violence and sex, as well as how the two are intermingled. It’s an easy read, and really a stunning book.
Also reading Charles Berstein’s poems this week. More on that this weekend, I hope.
Two things I never really noticed, never having paid attention before today, about Led Zeppelin: the music is pretty freaking awesome, but the lyrics are stupid, just absolutely stupid.