“Under the Wave”
by Lauren Groff
from the July 9 & 16, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
I think I like Lauren Groff’s stories more than others here. Her last to appear, “Dogs Go Wolf” from August 2017 (see the post here), inspired quite a bit of commentary, including a nice back-and-forth on something as fundamental as the role of fiction.
One thing I enjoy about Groff’s work is her ability to plumb deep fears and anxieties with fable-like narratives that nevertheless feel real. She seems to be going all in here. Just look at this opening section:
It came up through the ground in the night. The worst things never wait for sunrise.
She had soothed the bad dream from her little son until he breathed smoothly in the dark and then crossed the floors to the bed and climbed in without brushing the sand from her feet. The house sat alone in the marsh. They couldn’t afford the beach a mile away, and so their consolation was the birds. The great herons, the cormorants, the lit candles of ibis. As she drifted off, she thought of the birds sleeping out in their nests, although by then they were no longer there; they’d already fled.
She was almost asleep when she felt a great tongue licking the edges of her body, and she opened her eyes to see a bloom of black, her husband’s face in a silent shout already moving away, underwater.
And all was stripped from her and all she was was wildness and pain and her lungs bursting in the cage of her chest and her body battered by a hundred invisibilities and the terrible swirl.
Out of the wildness, the branch of an oak plucked her from the water and she clung there, animal, as orange dawned over the marsh made alien with mud.
I’m excited to read this one and to read your responses below. I hope your July is starting out great — and, if it’s hot where you are, that this story will be a part of a warm evening on the porch!