In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

Matt Bell

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1616953721

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods

Matt Bell

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1616953721

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this epic, mythical debut novel, a newly-wed couple escapes the busy confusion of their homeland for a distant and almost-uninhabited lakeshore. They plan to live there simply, to fish the lake, to trap the nearby woods, and build a house upon the dirt between where they can raise a family. But as their every pregnancy fails, the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world: the song-spun objects somehow created by his wife's beautiful singing voice, the giant and sentient bear that rules the beasts of the woods, the second moon weighing down the fabric of their starless sky, and the labyrinth of memory dug into the earth beneath their house.
 
This novel, from one of our most exciting young writers, is a powerful exploration of the limits of parenthood and marriage—and of what happens when a marriage’s success is measured solely by the children it produces, or else the sorrow that marks their absence.

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cough before, now I started again, my body often bent and stalled, jerking against the smoky walls of my wife’s hallways until my lungs were cleared enough to go on. When I could walk again I continued to light my fires, and as I moved away from their consumption I climbed always upward, through the rising smoke. At last I crouched along some smallest passage, and at its end I found a ladder that led to a trapdoor, an entrance to the house not previously used. Behind me I could see the flames

pennyroyal—and then he asked what it was my wife intended to grow, knowing I had no answer for his smirking question. Already I was made to learn to despise him by his words, and also sometimes her, and as each child sputtered inside her, my wife moved away, or else I did, until at last we were rarely in the same part of the house, our voices kept too distant to easily speak to each other. It was only then that I first saw what else the fingerling had been trying to show me: the newly variable

terrible blow landed in haste, at the shallow threshold of the water and the land, the dirt and the lake. THE BEAR’S FIST OF BONE struck me from shoulder to hip, through my back, scraped against skin and muscle and organ and rib, and by its force I was dropped into the water, the foundling still held tight against my chest, and as I fell I tucked him within my motion, curled his dead body in the curve of my still living one, and then in the shallows came the shift, the slide sideways into

spoke, her skin stopped smoking, lost some of its hottest heat even as it then stayed black and brittle. Encouraged by this cooling I confessed and confessed, and as the words moved out of my body and into the air, then with each story I saw her fever abate, diminished by right-ordered speech as it had not been by the wet cloths I had earlier tried. With each wrong-uttered word, each mistake I made or half-truth I told, the process reversed itself, set her body back toward ruin, and so I grew

furs would ever become a baby, even as she otherwise remained seemingly with child, heavy-breasted, thick-thighed. And so in the ninth month I emerged unsuspecting from the woods, still merely a husband, made no proper father despite the insistent promises of my wife, the hungry claims of the fingerling upon my flesh. That day, I felt myself only a fisherman, only a trapper with rabbits in hand, but already I had been remade again, my station changed upon an event unattended and now revealed: In

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