The Third Element
I liked this. The first person past voice is intimate enough without leaving the reader feeling smothered. There's an sense authority, like we are in deft hands, watching this tale unfold like some kind of precise origami.
As I have mentioned, Nightwood is a one-off for me. T.S. Eliot, who wrote the original Introduction to it, mentions that he had to read the book many times before he began to understand it as a whole. I've read it at least ten times but cannot yet say I understand it as a whole. In plot summary, it is the story of the love between two women, one ostensibly sane, the other not, and how that unravels disastrously for all involved. But it is so much more than that. I think it may take the wind out of your sails. Barnes' use of the language is so extraordinary, the description so acute, she is like no other author I can think of. She was compared at the time to Joyce but I think only in a cursory way as her sentences sometimes travel over a page or more before reaching their periods. She is what I think of as a tonal writer; she sets a tone, a mood, an environment. She is not, for me, so much about ideas as she is about character. And, finally, the brilliance of her Dr. O'Connor character and his monologues is unparalleled. But be forewarned that the novel begins laboriously. In fact, the entire first section of Nightwood almost seems to have been written by someone else. It takes flight, and leaves the ground never to return, with the introduction of Dr. O'Connor. Barnes is herself an interesting study. I believe there are two biographies that I have read. A lesbian ex-pat in Paris who eventually returned to isolation in NYC where she was attended to in her elder years by several young gay admirers. She lived in an apartment, rather shoddy, and scarcely left. At one point, E.B. White (do I have the initials right?) lived in the apartment above her and would periodically hang his head out the window and call down to her, "Still alive Djuna?" I will be curious to hear what you think of Nightwood.
Got it. I failed to mention one attribute to the "quickness" of this chapter. It works well with the bitter cold of the setting. And some of the images are spot on: the blackbird falling from the sky. Have you read Nightwood? I found a quote from it that seems oddly relevant to your Dahmer: “Our bones ache only while the flesh is on them.”
― Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
Okay. While I mostly agree with Marie's comment, "...brevity of your syntax..." it reads just a tad too chopped up. Go back to Hemingway's intro to A Farewell to Arms (for the thousandth time) and count how many times he connects images with "and." He manages to keep his imagery succinct while maintaining his cadence. It won't take much tweaking to render this chapter looking effortless.
OK, I see what's forming now, a triad of some sort. And I take it this is Steven Tuomi (the mention of Michigan). Love the brevity of your syntax Fred. And the bit about the lube had me lol! Eager for more.