Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sunnyside Gardens: A Bright Side of Life

A Slice of Life from Jonathan Lethem's
Dissident Gardens:

That's how you know you're still alive, Miriam wanted to tell her. Dying inside was for Rose a way of life. Within her mother was a volcano of death. Rose had spent her whole life stoking it, trying to keep the mess inside contained but fuming. In Rose's lava of disappointment the ideals of American Communism had gone to die their slow death eternally; Rose would never die precisely because she needed to live forever, a flesh monument, commemorating Socialism's failure as an intimate wound. Rose's sisters' unwillingness to defy, by their marriages, by their life stories, the obedient Judaic domestic-life scripts Miriam's grandparents had salvaged from that shtetl that was neither Poland nor Russia but some unholy no-Jew's land between; this rage too had to smolder eternally inside the radioactive container, the unexploded bomb that was Rose Zimmer. God himself had gone inside her to die: Rose's disbelief, her secularism, wasn't a freedom from superstition but the tragic burden of her intelligence. God existed just to the puny extent he could disappoint her by his nonexistence, and while he was puny, her anger at him was immense, almost Godlike. Finally, if you dared argue, if you needed proof of Godlessness in this vale of outrage, the Holocaust. Each of the six million was a personal injury nursed within the volcano, too.

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