Monday, September 28, 2009
Early yesterday, Mark climbed up the ladder on the south side of the house to find an immense zucchini on the roof, hiding inside the vine spangling the chimney. It had already cracked of its own weight at the stem. Still, what a thing to find, with its hard green rind and spongy dry interior, fleshy with seeds, vaguely sweet, vaguely useless. A little like a brain gone haywire. A Moby Dick of a zucchini, a vegetable torpedo, a tusk. More life and more life and more.
Here's an immensity of another sort: the Niagara Falls passage from Salvatore Scibona's The End, which I'm teaching this week. The paperback is due out on October 6.
from The End
The titanic physical dimensions of this place gave to the movement of any small ting, any merely human-life-sized thing, an illusion of supernatural slowness. The Canadian cars on the opposite lip of the canyon seemed at best to be creeping. Any splash, any arbitrarily chosen patch of water you followed into the cloud below, appeared not to fall (since what could take so long falling?) but to drift leisurely down the face of the cataract. A few clouds overhead and these other clouds, what a shock, drifting up into the sky. And down by the base of the falls the clouds were so thick as to obscure completely his view of where the falling water made impact with the river itself, giving him the impression that the water wasn't descending into the river at all but into a befogged chasm, where it was swallowed up and annihilated. Raw senses were not to be believed in this place. And he had to ask himself if the unchanging physical rules that governed small things in fact changed radically in the face of a really big thing. As in, if he dropped a newspaper into the river up here it might turn into a flamingo by the time it got to the bottom of the falls. Next to him the river was clean, green, fat, and fast. Down there, postfall, it was blue and teemed with hills of brown scum. A knee-high sycamore sapling, very still, only one leaf ashiver, grew not six inches from a current that could have thrown a truck over the cliff's edge. Somehow, a little upstream of the falls, these brave, industrious people had managed to build a bridge over this arm of the river, had managed to sink the pylons into the rapids, and couples were walking hand in hand in yellow rubber rain slicks over the bridge toward Goat Island, which split the Niagara River into two arms, one falling over the Horsehoe Falls, the other over the American. A mile off to his right, downriver of the falls, another, far longer bridge spanned the gulf, hundreds of feet above the water, connecting the second-and fourth-largest nations in the world. He put a nickel in a binocular telescope and aimed it at the bridge and saw a kid throw--was it popcorn?--into the wind and hang his hand over the rail to watch it fall.