Salvage the Bones
I often pick up older works by authors who are being talked about a lot in the book press as a new book is released and that’s how I came to read Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. I didn’t know what to expect of her work, other than that I’d skimmed reviews of her new novel and everyone talked about her beautiful prose. And those folks aren’t wrong, her writing is amazing and truly beautiful.
But I’m also still thinking a lot about this book and don’t have much to say; it took me into a world and culture that I know very little about, the South in the US. I learned a lot, I was transported to a completely different place, and I was often unsettled. That isn’t bad, it’s probably very good for me.
I scrub, wipe like I could wipe away the love of Manny, the hate of Manny, Manny away. And then I get up because it is the only thing I can do. I step out of the ditch and brush the ants off because it is the only thing I can do. I follow Randall around the house because it is the only thing I can do; if this is strength, if this is weakness, this is what I do. I hiccup, but tears still run down my face. After Mama died, Daddy said, What are you crying for? Stop crying. Crying ain’t going to change anything. We hid it. I learned how to cry so that almost no tears leaked out of my eyes, so that I swallowed the hot salty water of them and felt them running down my throat. This was the only thing we could do. I swallow and squint through the tears, and I run. (p 206)