Afterimage by Helen Humphreys

Superb book. I have to quote it here for a while, sit back and let the words flow into you. This is, unquestionably, one of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve read in the last ten years. Eldon is a map maker, late 20th century, eating alone in large formal dining room — on an English estate.

Eldon bends his head over his plate of underdone turkey, which has been hacked from the bone in rough, stringy wedges. There’s the whicker of the clock being wound in the hall. A bract of vines at the window. The cut heads of roses float in a crystal bowl, one turning slowly in the whispery light, bumping against the others, turning like a compass disk toward the thought of North.

Let’s not stop there, here’s another, Annie is the new maid in Eldon’s estate house:

When you just sit somewhere and don’t move, the whole world comes to you. Annie sees thing she has never noticed before. Birds and insects circle in the trees above her. Flowers tilt their heavy heads toward the soft-grass ground. The smells of the summer are wide. She looks up at the sun strained through a mass of cloud. How is it then that she sometimes misses Mrs. Gilbey and Portman Square. It is only because it has been familiar to her? …

once again, I thank you for not reading.

See you in the funny papers.

afterimage, a novel by Helen Humphreys, published by Metropolitan Books 2000. Exquisite book.


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