I received this book in the mail last week from Alyssa Knickerbocker’s father. We met in a ballroom on a Sunday afternoon in Danbury, Connecticut, the town where I was raised. A childhood friend of mine was getting married and her father threw a small cocktail party for friends of the family to celebrate and we’d both been invited. It was a strictly Connecticut affair: low-light, well-meaning suburbanites with Lions Club pins and grandchildren in tow, and a parking lot planted with saplings bursting red and orange from an early fall.
I haven’t spent much time at home over the last few years. This was admittedly fueled by a distaste for it and some of the memories of it I carry with me. But recently I’ve come to want to know it better–to re-meet it–because I was away for so long. Particularly in the last year I’ve had the ghostly feeling of missing Danbury, as if I was missing a piece of myself.
The book is an eternal return told in the second person, the main character driven from her home by a tragic force and then drawn back to it by the same force. It’s a pulsing story about coming home full of intimate images. I read it in one sitting tonight and it pulled me in. A mystery gets things kicking towards the beginning and human warmth and weakness carries it through to the end.
Though the ending let me down (I wanted more Dickens and less Carver) it was a good read and I recommend it. The constant rhythm of the “you” in its narration brought me back to my own relationship with home, raising the question we all probably ask ourselves when we return to the place where our ghosts haunt:
Why did you go so far only to come back here?