A devastating tragedy serves to reunite two friends from childhood in this emotionally compelling and sexually charged first novel from an exciting new voice in fiction.
Tess gives an overview of the book:
Buddy has been lost for some time, his wipers whisking the thick Maine snow, when he spots a missed turn in his rearview and brakes. The car fishtails, rocketing into a spin. The faster it pivots, the slower time moves. Buddy is the fixed point, the world careening around him.
He takes a young maple with him into the gully. A few stubborn leaves cling to the branches that protrude through the windshield. Everything is abruptly quiet. He sees bits of sky. A lone heron. The car is resting on its side with Buddy somehow in the passenger seat, his back to the window and his foot beneath the crushed steering wheel. The angle is impossible; it appears to be someone else’s leg. The dead engine ticks; he smells gasoline and sap, freshly split wood, his sister’s griddlecakes.
He remembers being lost in the woods as a child with his sister April and their friend Oliver, the scent of wet leaves and the downy chill of night descending. This is what comes to Buddy now. A brook gurgling and sloshing over scattered rocks. The three of them stepping from stone to stone. His small hands in their big hands. Water funneling down. The beginnings of a question he feels but can’t say. It has the shape of a person bending over him, waiting.
The mangled sapling creaks. Buddy looks into the car and sees a young man with startled eyes wearing his parka. He can’t imagine who it is. He looks down on the smoldering, baby blue Malibu dusted with drifting snow. The scene is oddly tranquil. Strapped to the sideways roof, the deer he shot this morning appears to stand upright, ready to bolt.
Specks of snow travel in. Buddy hears each flake as it touches his hair, the soft down on the buck’s antlers. He remembers putting his hand on its side as it lay in the snow, feeling its heat. Those dark, gentle eyes. His sister’s eyes, worried every time he skinned his knee. “I’m sorry, April,” he used to say.
“It’s okay, sweet pea,” she replied, dabbing the gash gingerly. “We all fall sometimes.” But her smile was pained; she hated when he got hurt.
He wishes he could let her know that what’s happening now doesn’t hurt at all. He’s fine. A veil of snow shrouds the windshield. Buddy feels a growing pause between each breath, like a stride lengthening, an aperture opening by increments until at last, he slips through.
Tess Callahan has written for The New York Times Magazine, National Public Radio, Boston College Magazine, Cottonwood, The Stylus Anthology: 1950-2000, New York Newsday and elsewhere through syndication....