Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Cracking up the concrete like claws

I was reading in the metro this morning and I read a sentence that reminded me of another sentence. I made a mental note of the sentence and read on. Something made me want to check the author’s resources — I’d noticed that she includes research notes at the end of the book. That something — I don’t recall now what is was — was possibly not fictitious, but a reference to something (a book, a movie) in our nonfictitious lived reality.

The sentence was this:
From the Third Hotel, the closest CADECA was on La Rampa, on a street corner shaded by a banana tree, the roots cracking up the concrete like claws.
And the sentence it reminded me of was this:
It's just one of those pieces of Rome that cracks through the concrete of the present day like a bad memory, a way in for grass, for all kinds of untidy thoughts.
And it made me think of the difference between a horror story and a love story, and it made me think that maybe they're the same thing.

I am reading The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg, which put me in mind of one little sentence from Break.up by Joanna Walsh, whose Hotel was listed in the notes. Coincidence, of course, like the coincidence of all horror stories.

There's this thing about how horror springs up when someone's compass is taken away, leaving them unable to navigate the world. Rural horror tends to rely on some literal abyss or dislocation from "reality"; whereas urban horror relies on a different kind of gap in our reality — abandoned lots, alleyways, cracks in sidewalks.

The Third Hotel and Break.up are indeed very similar, women traversing an urban landscape, tracing a lost love, following their footsteps, repeating their words. So they are both horror stories. (The horror of a break-up?) How are they different?

[Possibly I should spend more time writing about books while I'm reading them instead of waiting till I'm done.]

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