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Pickle Me This

September 21, 2007

You must

Because I read so much, so fast, I am quite well-versed at moving on. Books end, books shut. But one book has been positively haunting me since I read it more than a month ago. You might remember that I wasn’t so impressed as I read Vendela Vida’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. I didn’t know where the tale was leading, and the narrative seemed lacking in complexity. The prose was good, but it was all so weird. Intriguingly so, though, and I read to the end. That end. It shocked me, as it was meant to. Not with horror, but with power. Vida took everything I’d ever supposed about fate, family, obligation, story, history, and she turned it on its head. The phrase still resonates: “And when I hear people say that you can’t start over, that you cannot escape the past, I would think You can. You must.” Nothing else has ever been so wise, and the power of that moves me to tears if I think too hard. Of course you must, and I cannot wait to reread the book, galvinized by its now-inevitable close.

2 thoughts on “You must”

  1. Steven W. Beattie says:

    The rejoinder to Vida’s argument:

    “It’s not about knowin where you are … it’s about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody’s. You dont start over. That’s what it’s about. Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it … You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count.”

    — Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

  2. Kerry says:


    But no!

    You must. What she says acknowledges the weight of yesterday, but that you plunge forth nonetheless. Because what else can you do?

    (I would love to have furthered this with another direct quote, but I left my Vendela Vida at home today…)

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