A couple weeks ago, I finished reading Jim Krusoe’s novel, Erased. I wanted to read the whole thing again right after finishing the last line.
Reading this book, or really any of Krusoe’s fiction, is like taking a trip to the inner layer of the mind, which has somehow been turned inside out and exposed to the sun, and then finding some unknown organ that you need to survive but never knew was there. In his novels, dreams and reality at first seem to (but then don’t quite) fit each other…like a box of mismatched lids for old canning jars.
Here’s a bit from later in the novel, which I don’t think will spoil anything.
“Time, that old fooler, expanded and compressed itself, rolled over and played dead, only to spring back to life again when I least expected it. How long I walked, I couldn’t tell. It could have been hours. It might have been minutes. I heard the high squeals of bats and the sharp cries of night birds. I heard my own breath grow heavy as I trudged up a smallish hill, then I heard it ease on the way down. The wild dogs, or a completely different set of wild dogs, were back.”
In Erased, Krusoe’s protagonist is looking for his mother, who is supposedly dead, but keeps sending him postcards. This quest takes him to Cleveland, an idealized Cleveland that is laughable to anyone who has been to the real Cleveland. In Krusoe’s vision, the city is brimming with artists, carrying their work (often classical sculpture busts) with them to cafes like real-life celebrities carry small dogs in handbags. I love how the writer boldly steals the city from “our” reality.
Speaking of theft, I stole this photo from an interview with Jim Krusoe at Bookworm on KCRW.
Jim Krusoe was my mentor in graduate school at Antioch Los Angeles. I still consider him my mentor. Jim is a wonderful teacher. By asking a seemingly a simple question, “What are you interested in writing?” and telling me to write seven pages, Jim fostered my novel The Watery Girl into being. His manner is so good-natured and encouraging that, when he tells you the first few pages of a story need to go, you cut them without pain. I have learned so much from Jim over the years, I can’t imagine where I’d be as a writer without him.
I think Erased is his strongest work yet. And I can’t wait to read more, and read again.