"Robison's minimalism is more like a slap in the face: it's short, it stings, and you wonder who in tarnation did that to you." The New York Times
Enter Eve. Based in New Orleans, she's a location scout for a movie production company and complacently married to Adam. "Now you know," she says. "Our names really didn't bother me that much until the mail started arriving addressed to 'Adam and Eve Broussard.'" He's just been diagnosed with a grave illness and gone back to the palatial family home where his parents reside. It's all just fine with Eveor so she tells herself at the beginning.
But standing left of center in this still-prosperous but mortally wounded family does not get easier as the weeks wear on. As she negotiates her way around the anger of Adam's despised twin brother Saunders, maintains her friendship with his beautiful and volatile wife Petal, and protects what's left of the innocence of her niece Collie, Eve finds more than the Louisiana heat oppressive.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
MARY ROBISON was born in Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, an O. Henry Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She is the author of Oh!, Subtraction , Tell Me , and One D.O.A., One on the Way. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
Now I've stepped on a rusty fucking nail. Not my first, either. Three nails at three different locations have pierced the soles of three unrelated shoes. And this happens to everybody who wanders out. I have to keep a First-Aid kit in my van for this type of thing. "Kit" is inadequate, and too short a word.
There's a little window period with Tetanus, of about twenty-four hours. Or so I was told by Mrs. G., a woman with a camper truck, who drove the neighborhoods, passing out vaccines.
I have this friend, Lucien, not a friend so much as he's my intern, who's been going around with me for months, every weekday, for a good part of the day.
Although, there is little left to our job. Ah, but you carry on here as if nothing could ever really be over.
There was work once before the work went out of town. You could do a lot of location scouting here. Everyone wanted you to. They hurled money at you, the production people with so much money, who wanted to film here because of the tax incentives, or the nine months of shooting weather, or the easy attitude toward permits, or because the place can mimic any other place that a film crew, then, wouldn't have to go.
I still get work, oh sure, and the New Orleans film industry isn't 100 percent in the shitter. I get commercials, or they're not quite commercials. These one- or two-day shoots. They're more like change-of-address ads. The businesses want to announce they still exist. They've relocated maybe, but they're back up, open.
So Lucien, my intern all this time, day-after-day for months, turns and says to me, "My name's Paul."
I'm not from here and I'll probably never get used to things, but I doubt if I'll ever leave. A rest might be an idea. There's too much eating. There's altogether too much sex, dancing, carousing, reveling. All of it goes on for far too long. There's powdered sugar dust on everything. There are twinkle lights burning every day of the year. Funerals, Jell-O shots, fishing, swearing, barbecues, back-door gigs, vats and vats of jambalaya. There are too many houses and sidewalks disappearing under weeds and vines and in yards that look impenetrable, too many neon signs, too much on-the-stoop drinking, corruption, and Technicolor clothes, too much crawfish shucking, and Catholic everything, too much stale beer, too many heroin junkies shooting up on the balconies, too many big homes, and trees snapped off, too many steel billboards bent to the ground, too much andouille sausage, too many second lines, too much money, and debauch, and cars parked all crooked. "Do you never tire ?" I cry from the car window.
My husband is from here. So is his twin. They're a couple of rummies with money to burn. I've been married eight years to my husband. He wasn't my first; I wasn't his, what of it?
Ease and Comfort
Here they are now, the twins Rags & Gasoline, lounging on their parents' veranda in the shade of a blue jacaranda tree.
They are dressed exactly alike again today, and that is one of the many ways they entertain themselves. I've been standing at a little distance, watching, and I wouldn't bet a dime on my guessing which is which.
Now a man in white linen appears on the veranda with a tray. It has coffee in mugs, honey and biscuits, a bottle of English whiskey.
"Whose turn is it to be my husband?" I ask, stepping up. To the man serving the breakfast tray, I say, "Not you. Or, not necessarily. Only if you want."
I found out a little while ago that my husband has Hep-C. It's symptomless! And yet, he has an active strain. He could be lying! He isn't, though.
"It's all right," he says now, with a hand patting my back. "I feel good. Be just fine. It's really all right."
I say, "Well, goddamn you."
"Underway," says he.
It's not great, the deal Adam has with his parents. It takes care of some bits of business, in that they pay for everything. They provide nurses, and a dietician. They paid to get him onto a transplant list. But he has to live here, with them, all the time.
I think sometimes: "He's only forty-two and he's this sick!"
Or, I think: "He's forty-two and he's had to run home to his parents!"
While I'm left kind of standing at the corner. And where, above me, it would seem, there's a very red light.
Saunders is the other twin, utterly identical. That's a good thing about him. Also to his credit are his wife and his little girl.
The bad things include an array of incidents, arrests, brawls, screaming, wretched Western Union transactions, also, all the clubs, bars, saloons, hotels, private homes, city parks, businesses, establishments, and streets he's been asked to leave.
Thirty Months After Katrina
I just can't manage the switch. It's undoable. Two days of correcting myself after every Lucien thought with "You mean Paul. Paul. It's Paul. Who's actually Lucien. Think of him as Paul."
"You look different," he says now.
I try this: "No. I don't."
He asks, "Aren't you ordinarily wearing a hat?"
"No, I'm never wearing a hat. Not one single time. I don't even own any."
"Well, something's weird then, because I remember you in different hats. Especially the two I liked best," says he.
I say, "I'm about to smash you in the shoulder blades."
"Vividly, I remember," he says. "There were two that I favored over all your other headgear."
"Lucien," I say, without reluctance or regret.
Drowsily, the husband lifts up in bed. He reaches and searches the end table for the T.V. remote.
"It's right here," I say, showing him I have it.
There are noises through the open windows from a cypress forest behind the house. Spiky shadows knife the walls in here, and there's a sweet odor from some fruit tree or other. We have only a snapping, inconsistent light from the television screen and its Mr. Moto movie.
He eases out of the sheets, and sits on the side of the bed. In the dim, his bare chest shines and his boxer shorts blink the whitest white.
Neither of us used to sleep through 'til morning. We would take naps together, at this time of the evening. We would wake up and play around, put on music, drink, go back to sleep, awaken.
We'd have whiskey in tea, and sweet potato muffins.
"Hit channel thirty," he tells me now.
Outside the room are powdery-white hallways, arched doors, a carved staircase. It would seem an enormous, lovely house where you could sit in an alcove on a bench and read, but it isn't.
I turn down the T.V. volume and switch around in my seat. "O.K., this is thirty. What are we tuning in?"
"Like you're staying," he says.
There is work waiting for me, true. Work that'll keep me busy tonight, some of tomorrow. Work, though, that I would rather not go and do.
Longing and resentment. Some of both in the way my husband is stamping out his cigarette.
I've motored out on the Great River Road toward Bayou Lafourche below Napoleonville. Here, I will see what I can see.
You have to get up on the levee for a view of anything. Down by the river, there's a pearly dawn over the blazing water, and an egret acting drunk on the banks. Otherwise, not a lot going on.
Here are a couple guys, however, waltzing along.
"Do you know anything about the riverboat schedules?" I ask.
"No," from these two, who are trying to act nonchalant, and as if they don't live their lives in various abandoned vehicles.
Some Things, You Finish With and They're Over
"Completion bonds," I'm telling Lucien. We're somewhere, parked in my location-scouting van. I'm giving a lesson.
He says, "Does this have partly to do with a deaf couple and Tom Cruise?"
"Nothing to do with them."
"Go on then," says Lucien.
"Completion bonds are something a film company acquires in advance. Then, if a production doesn't finish filming on time, the money people don't get fucked by the over-budget expenses. I guess the bonding people get fucked instead, but they must expect that to happen from time to time. It's just insurance, O.K.? You see what I mean?"
Lucien nods a few times while drawing on a cigarette. Now he holds it as though his hand is very, very tired.
"After Katrina," I say, "no one was willing to write completion bonds. Your thing's about to drip ashes there, amigo. Nobody would, and that's one of the biggest reasons the film companies took a hike."
"Ma'am?" says Lucien, and I'll want to speak to him about that later on.
"Just let me get through this," I say.
He settles back on the passenger seat, his smoking hand now dangled out the window. He watches me dully, as if he'll soon be going to sleep.
I say, "Even a more serious problem, is what went with the production companies on their way out of town. The crew base. We have a diminished and devalued crew base. Where you need a depth of three or four individuals in each and every skill. We're down to one individual for some skills, and, for most skills, no individuals."
"That's sad," Lucien says.
"Yep," I say, turning the engine.
He says, "You know what I think we should do? Like, immediately? Or, never mind. I'm not even going to suggest anything."
"You're welcome to."
"No. Maybe you just better ignore me," he says, as if that would not have occurred to me to do.
Hell, it's a lucky day if I'm photographing real estate. Things will never get back. I'm out of business, and I ought to fucking move.
What I do now, day in and day out, is all hypothetical. I've become a "what-if" location scout.
In a City That Is Only Seven Miles Long
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thank you!!! Yay Kristina! Keep going!!
Love it, but I just gotta say. 'Que' is spelled cue.
Sorry, it's late...almost midnight, but it's here ^_^ <p> Everything started moving in no time. It was like time stopped so he could spit that word at me. I stumble backwards a bit. Devirex gives me the creepiest smile I have ever seen. <br> "Anything wrong?" He asks, as if daring me to say something. I open my mouth and then shut it quickly. I had nothing to say. Nothing at all. Devirex looks at Marina. "Let's go talk...somewhere else." He suggests, putting his hand on the small of her back. They go up the stairs like that. When Devirex is out of sight Tobin looks around confusedm <br> "Where'd Marina go?" He asks me. I look at him. <br> "She just went upstairs...with Devirex." I tell him, how could he not remember the man we met, especially we had just seen him. <br> "Who? You know, it doesn't matter. Arami, you should go talk to people. Have some fun." He winks and I make a face, but go into the huge ballroom. I run into a woman. She looks at me and grins widely. <br> "Arami! You have no idea hoe great it is to see you. I have been looking everywhere. I can't believe you could just sneak up on me like that. Funny, right?" She says. I look at her. <br> "Sorry, but I don't think I know you..." I say and she nods slowly. <br> "Oh, yeah. I'm Katrina. I'm with the DOA. New recruit. And now I get to watch over you." She smiles and pokes my nose on you. I nid and wave at her, walking towards another person. The music starts playing and it is really slow ballroom dancing music. I feel very awkward. I don't know how to dance, much less ballroom dance. I also feel like everyone is under-dressed for this music. I watch as people start pairing up and dancing around. Katrina has disappeared. I look around for her and someone takes one of my hands. I jump and smack the person who had my hand. I look at the face and see it's Tobin. My face heats up quickly. <br> "Whoa, killer." Tobin chuckles. "I was just going to see if you wanted to dance. You looked rather lonely." He says. <br> "Sorry...and I can't dance." I mumble. He smiles and takes my hand again. <br> "Then this is the perfect opportunity to learn." He grins and puts one hand on my waist, and take the other and links it with one of my hands. I put my other han on his shoulder. He starts slowly talking me through it. Back, Left, Forward, Right. I repeat that in my head as we dance to the song. I lose myself in my footsteps, and don't even realize when the end of the song comes. Tobin lets me go and I look up. Katrina is back, and she is staring right at me. <br> "I think I need to...yeah...so...bye." I tell Tobin and walk over to Katrina. "You're staring." I tell her. She nods. <br> "I just recieved word that there is a Fallen in here. He is looking for you. Fallen can do dangerous things Arami. You need to stay away from anyone suspicious. Tell your family too." She says. I nod slowy and turn to walk off when I think of something. <br> "Katrina, could a Fallen cause amnesia in humans?" I whisper humans quietly. She nods. "Can they stop time?" I ask, feeling my eyes getting wider. <br> "Only the very powerful ones can. And they must draw a lot of power if they want to do it for a while." She explains to me. <br> "Katrina I think I saw a Fallen." I swallow hard. <br> "Where?" She asks, looking around. My breath starts becoming shallower. <br> "He went up the stairs." I say and shiver, suddenly getting cold. "With Marina." I add. And as if on quoue, there was a high-pitch scream from upstairs
One of the worst books ever. It was actually painful to read. How did it ever get published?