Silkie by David Rothgery
Stephen Mollgaard has a somewhat normal life. As a college English professor he maintains his house, his divorce, his seizure medication, his bike. He lives his life inside the safety of the box, inside the safety of the lines, but also inside of a filing cabinet containing newspaper clippings, poetry, and past student files. In this filing cabinet Stephen recognizes the irregularities, the unfairness, the absurdity, the horror, and the other worldliness of…the world. In a way that Stephen cannot pinpoint, the moments contained in his filing cabinet connect him to something larger, something more meaningful than his drive to work, his lunchtime sandwich, and his time spent watching the news. When Silkie Sanders appears out of the rain, Stephen’s life is opened to new possibilities, new paths, and, perhaps, a re-invigoration– a reminder of what it means to be alive and human. Stephen comes to realize that there are two worlds. The first world is the one that we expect, the one that we see every day, the one that we grow up and are told to belong to. The second world is hidden a little farther under, a little deeper down. This second world can be ugly, awful, and hard, but it could also be the purpose for living, it could be where all beauty really comes from. Silkie, of this second world, will change Stephen’s life.
David Rothgery’s novel, Silkie, is one of the best pieces of contemporary writing that we have read in the past few years. From his superb writing, it is obvious that Rothgery is very well read and this narrative he has constructed is, quite simply, utterly captivating. Silkie does not shy away from the ugliness, cruelness, or confusion that our modern world breeds. Instead it seeks to remind us that all it takes is one thing, no matter how small, to completely transform us.
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