Tuesday, January 10, 2017

heroes of the frontier

(or, the first book I read in 2017, a year in which I am removing my phone charger from my bedroom and re-learning to pick up a book before bed)

I loved Dave Eggers from the moment I saw the drawing of a stapler in the preface to A.H.W.O.S.G. in high school, and admired him all the more when I saw him speak about What Is The What with Valentino Achak Deng in Harlem after a harrowing road trip from suburban Philadelphia with my like-minded literary roommate Colleen.  I forced Colleen, and Becky, who we visited in San Francisco, on a pilgrimage to 826 Valencia and the McSweeney's headquarters on an autumn afternoon and years later, a few months after moving to New York, I eagerly attended an orientation for volunteers at 826 Brooklyn.  Unfortunately my all-too-regular 9 to 5 never permitted me to actually volunteer, but the funny thing about all this is that now my apartment in Park Slope is a five minute walk from 826 Brooklyn.

All this to say that it has been a while since I truly enjoyed reading something Dave Eggers has written as much as I enjoyed this novel (The Circle was just a little too... circle-y).  It feels like a good start to the year that has stirred a renewed respect for one of my favorite authors.  I still eat hummus, though (see: About Me).

But soon the riding was comfortable enough and the landscape was drifting by, and because the sun was setting, setting so late, it occurred to her all at once that she'd never been more connected to the land, and nothing around her had ever seemed more alive and glowing and beautiful.  The purple wildflowers, the grey dirt, the smell of the pine needles cooling.  The tall tree halved by lightning.  The waning sun on the hills in the distance, bright blue and white.  Whose bike was she riding, anyway?  A log-hewn fence.  The wail of a faraway truck slowing.  The monotony of an unburned forest on the sun-drenched hillside.  Why did she have to be tipsy before she could notice anything?  A rabbit!  A rabbit was just down the slope from the path, small, tawny, and staying longer than expected, looking at her with absolute recognition of her humanity, of her equal right to this land so long as she remained humble.  After it evaporated loudly into the thicket, there was the metallic hum of crickets.  The butterlight of some cabin in the nearby woods.  The heat of the pavement below her, the faint smell of tar where someone had sutured its tendril cracks.  The click of her gears, the awed hush of the highway beyond the trees, the pointless drama of all its rushing travelers.  "You know what time it is?" asked a voice.

From Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers