Sunday, April 26, 2009

The mansion in question...

The mansion in question--Faustino, Javier called it--was straight out of the antebellum American South, complete with square columns and great tufts of Spanish moss drooping from the roof like a gallery of beards in a costume shop. As we climbed the steps to the veranda, Javier warned me that Dr. Sabacthani had slept badly the previous night, and I must not take her exhaustion for haughtiness. We passed through the front door, its central panel carved with a bas-relief Aztec deity who'd evidently actualized himself for the sole purpose of being unappeasable, then proceeded to a geodesic dome whose hundred hurricane-proof glass triangles served to shield a private jungle from the ravages of Gulf storms. Ferns, vines, and orchids flourished everywhere. Fumes compounded of humus and nectar filled my nostrils. The air felt like hot glue. At the center of all this Darwinian commotion, an immense mangrove tree emerged from a saltwater pond, its naked roots entwined like acrobatic pythons, its coiling limbs bearing small green fruit suggesting organic ping-pong balls. Beneath the tree, dressed in a white lace gown and reading an issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, a woman of perhaps forty sat in a wicker chair, its fan-shaped back spreading behind her like Botticelli's scallop shell giving birth to Venus.--The Philosopher's Apprentice (2008), James Morrow



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