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Too Late/Too Early

January 22, 2012

It’s just after 3 am and I’m spending a few pages in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, having just woken up from a dream in which my dad is trying impatiently to get me to pack up my husband’s tiny rolling suitcase so that we can all go down to breakfast and get out of a hotel room which is horribly brown and in which the locks don’t work well and the bathroom has too many separate alcoves and doors.

Things are just subtly off in the dream and my body begins to thrum with anxiety, like a car jouncing down a gravel road that has ceased to become a road.

The problem is that I’ve been slamming back too much urban fiction lately. There is a sameness to the genre, a mystery wrapped in a fantasy in which blood is shed by magic and modern weaponry and the protagonist ranges through the strangeness without a taste for his or her life.  The stories are quick but the people leave a slick of sweat on the imagination. This novel mitigates that with quick, elusive chapters that I have to read slowly, like watching fish flash through the water lilies at the local arboretum. The speed of their motion requires you to narrow in your focus and hold yourself in stillness.

I still have a shelf full of the urban stuff. I’ve enjoyed mysteries since I was a child and I’ve always had that tendency to be anxious. The stories fit and amplify my mood.

It’s 3:43 am and my veins are ringing like an alarm system. A few more pages and the anxiety will wear off and I’ll be able to slip again into those crazy odds and ends of a vacation:  leaving the hotel room, finding your way through an unmarked cafeteria line, driving a Hot Wheels’ track of a highway to a cavernous mall.


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