"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth

02 March 2015


Despite his thorough recklessness, though, Sunderson is a tough old survivor. And like all of Harrison’s protagonists, he is supremely aware of his predicament and the biological absurdities of being a man. Usually this means observing women with a constant, helpless lust, as when he escapes to Europe late in the book: “Her legs were brown and when she sat on the bench for a few minutes her skirt flashed up a bit in the breeze off the river and his heart felt a pang at the bareness of her legs. How hopeless. When does it stop?”

Never. It never stops. The ego, the wandering, the violence, the bottomless hunger, the lust — they just might be life enacting itself. What else is there?

It’s in this late chapter, the book’s finest, that Sunderson recalls “a rare honest evening,” realizing that the “drinker was the intense center of his own universe, his perceptions rather lamely going outward but colored utterly by the false core.” Hence the constant fishing, because “it was hard to think about yourself while staring at a river. In fact you couldn’t do it.” 


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