Wood

Wood - Robert Dunbar I finished this novella last night and I am still rolling it over and over again in my mind. It clearly deserves a re-read. Sometimes it makes all the difference to read the first line of a novel when you already know the last. Dunbar is one of the few novelists good enough to deserve a re-read.

All through my reading I got the feeling that Dunbar was laughing a snarky laugh as he teases the reader. I don't want to give away the numerous punchlines because I enjoyed them but just remember your fairy tales and if that isn't enough I really can't help you. And I feel that we must remember that fairy tales were written to teach moral truths to the reader.

We follow several marginal characters who live in or travel through a marginal area on the outskirts of town. Similarly, Rosario and the male protagonist with the porn star name (Dick Wood---yes, I actually heard Dunbar laughing when I read that name the first time) live on the periphery of their own lives.

"Blessed is the creature that knows its purpose." Neither the monster nor the human characters have any sense of purpose. The monster acts not from any evil desire; it merely feeds. And grows. Like an oil spill on the ocean. Yet it also is evolving.

The humans protagonists are not much better off. They seem unsure how to extract themselves from a life-threatening situation, how to escape the monster that pursues them, or even if they have the energy to try. They are like so many of us who watch the encroachment of biological (and human) forces of our own making that are rapidly destroying the world around us while we sit in front of our televisions wondering what show we will watch next, lacking the drive to save ourselves. We grow frustrated at Rosario and Dick's indifference to their own fate but are we any better? What is Dunbar saying here?

Is this what we have become? Uninterested in our own fate? Is this monster a hodgepodge of malevolence created by our own destructive indifference and ennui?

Dunbar's novel doesn't try to make us jump us as much as it tries to make us think. And the thoughts it brought up for me were the stuff of nightmares.