imagined distance

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

Alice Munro in Walker Brother Cowboy writes:

So my father drives and my brother watches the road for rabbits and I feel my father’s life flowing back from our car in the last of the afternoon, darkening and turning strange, like a landscape that has an enchantment on it, making it kindly, ordinary and familiar while you are looking at it, but changing it, once your back is turned, into something you will never know, with all kinds of weathers, and distances you cannot imagine.

This paragraph, the second to last in the story, is filled with mystery and depth, shades, a sense of closure in light, landscape, and mind. There’s the car, the road, the little brother hoping for glimpses of rabbits, and then the speaker glimpsing something else in her father. Something obvious but far off, familiar but unfamiliar. The idea closes with the idea of distance. The narrator’s father has become alien, nearer but also further. She understands he had a possible other life, that things could have been different, the “present” a fragile thing, and, most of all, that he’s thinking the same thing. A scary ending, trembling with inertia, the long sentence stitching out its pearls.


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