depaysment

by uzwi

September, the month of re-reading.

What can be recovered of “Ursula” from T Behrens’ oddly unsatisfying memoir of her ? He erases her identity so carefully that she has no substance except as his brother’s lover, anima & nemesis–existing, in fact, only as an exotic accessory to, or ravager of, the Behrens family life. He claims, in part, to be giving us her journals, but edits them down to nothing much. When he finally allows her to speak, she defines “depaysment” as:

belonging yet not belonging. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent in situations of limbo. The odd feeling that one has found the original of the sensation one has always looked for, after a long series of approximations.

Also: Hilary Mantel’s horror story Eight Months on Ghazzah Street. Its quiet paranoia and bizarre sense of oppression counterweight a classic travel writer’s rendering of landscape and manners. Resolution flickers into focus then dissipates, leaving a hundred questions. Almost the perfect novel.

But those who think I never read anything new are very wrong.