Wednesday, April 2, 2014

a review of Hannah Pittard's novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way

I found a prerelease of Hannah Pittard's novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, in 2011, in the backroom of the Border's Bookstore that I worked at for years,

more years than the bookstore was a Border's, actually. The first time I attempted to read the novel, everything was changing. I worked there through graduate school, and I worked there for years after graduate school. I made friends. I lost friends. I thought some were great friends, but they were not. I hosted parties. I drank too much, and I drank alone, and I wrote constantly about nothing that I would ever show to anyone about people I thought I loved but don't even know anymore.

I wrote these decadent journals. More decadent than Sebastian's in Cruel Intentions and maybe even more cruel. I made journals like maps that went nowhere. 

And I was not anywhere for sure either. The first time I attempted to read The Fates Will Find Their Way, I was wearing my roller skates to work and pretending like the end of one thing did not mean the end of everything, even though it did, and I knew it did. 

I had been hiding out in that bookstore for too long. 
I had been hiding out in that little cubby hole house at my parents' for too long.
I had been hiding out in fantasies
                                      in dreams I thought I wanted but couldn't decided what they were.

I cut my hair, forgot who I was. I sank the ship. I went to places I did not want to go, and I stayed because I could not think of anything else to do.

I tried to read Hannah Pittard's novel at the time, but I couldn't. It reminded me too much of Jeffery Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. The beautiful girl that no one knows; the syrupy dreams and romantic images of an unknown other told from the perspective of a collective we; the musicality and beauty of the language; the green-dark, dreary world. Most everything between the two are parallel, but

if the only honest difference between a tragedy and a comedy is where the death occurs (at the end a tragedy, at the beginning a comedy), then Pittard's novel was a slow, tragic walk from the grave, which was far more revealing than a tragedy.

And I could not handle that at the time
because I was coping with my own comedy,
so I put it on the shelf.

It's three years later, and I recently finished reading Hannah Pittard's novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, which takes it's title from Virgil's Aeneid ( "What each man does will shape his trial and fortune. For Jupiter is king to all alike; the fates will find their way."), and definitely follows the crooked and winding lines that trial and fortune necessitate. 

Trial and Fortune.
Here the fates have found me:

a job. a baby. a husband. a home I feel at home in. beautiful clothes. tiny hands. the smell of almonds and honey. mornings are pale blue through the windows; they're tea and coffee and fruit. showers when the baby is asleep. nights hugging each other, in this tiny coccoon.

The point of Pittard's novels is one that could hurt. The point of Pittard's is like that 80s soap opera, and how these are the days of our lives. And no matter the happiness, no matter the fact that the days are what we make them, 

the days still move along,
they still fade,
they're still gone.

The only difference is that hopefully we don't spend our lives wanting and coveting other things. The Buddhists believe that life is suffering, and the act of hope is the root of the suffering: so kill the dream, kill the pain.

The other day, Tim was talking about someone else, and he said, "Imagine, that's the place he decided to spend his whole life in."

When I was eight months pregnant and laying in bed, Tim told me a story about a banana and a muffin and the long, difficult journey they had climbing up this mountain to get to heaven. There were downfalls. And a decent while up that mountain, the banana had to carry the muffin because she was sick, and the poor banana's skin was growing thick and black and peeling back. And he pretended it wasn't because he had to. Because only one person could be sick at a time.

These are rules to live by, and

at the end of the story, I cried.
Tragedy is always in our incongruence,

but at least banana and muffin were climbing that mountain. The characters in The Fates Will Find Their Way were stuck at the bottom, wasting their lives dreaming of the stars, not even bold enough to face the sky.

Tim keeps trying to get me to watch Terrence Malick's Tree of Life, but I can't deal with that kind of art right now, which is identical to the voice of The Fates Will Find Their Way.

Nothing moves because it's always moving.
It's all color, it's so much beauty,
but it's a drowning stagnancy.

It's being forced to watch the grass grow in someone else's life,
all the while, realizing that your grass is growing too
and there is nothing you can do.

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