From Woman With Eyes Closed

When she was a child this had been her playground. She was never deterred on rough days, took any surf. Well, used to never be. She remembered how she hurled herself at the elements, stacking up her own strength against them, playing all day with her friends and into the night if there was a bonfire. One day green gray waves were boiling down the coast, a hurricane on the way. Pre-hurricane water was often warm, warmer than it looked, and for Perrin and Jed Aldrich at twelve, it was irresistible. They knew that the surfers were all in the water somewhere, so why not them?

They jumped in. The sea and sky were almost the same color, the rain coming down in spattering sheets. They rode the swells, not noticing how fast the water was taking them east. She stayed close to him, grabbing enough air when she could, and diving deep when the waves were at odds and smashing up white water. There were patches of calm laced with foam, where they floated on their backs in slow circles, Perrin holding her mouth open for the fresh water drops, counting them as she caught them. It was like a roller coaster ride but better because there were no constraints and no limits to anything. She was in the grip of a wild, loving embrace, believing that the sea would not betray her.

From Woman With Eyes Closed

Intending to turn the tide of the conversation, Perrin mentioned that art heist in Holland, in Rotterdam. She reached for the facts and to her surprise they came easily to the tip of her tongue—seven works, among them two Monets, one Picasso, one Matisse, and one Hochberg, that had been featured in all of the papers, an intimate portrait of a woman with closed eyes. Everyone commented on how terrible it had been, and how really bizarre that these three characters about whom nothing yet was known, had been able to so easily rob a major museum of its treasures. For a moment it seemed to blow the tension out of the room.

Jack’s smile trembled. He was holding his breath, cracking just a little. No, Jack didn’t have a clear vision he was pursuing back in New York, and that was fine by her. He was a young artist, precisely attuned. He was a shape shifter, and some might have called him shallow even then. Perhaps that’s why she had loved him. He was as much an actor as she was, if not more. After growing up with a cantankerous painter who was an outsider most of his life, much of it his own doing—the future with Jack had seemed full of light. Levity and good fortune had followed him through the door of that first studio on Houston and had stayed with him all the way. Even if he had to strain a little more to hang onto it.

“Well, just like you say, per esempio—the Rotterdam robbers,” said Fuori, while Perrin’s attention snapped back to the table.

“They always go for the old masters, why?” asked Fuori.

“So sad,” said Wyatt, reaching for the mineral water.

 “Limited supply,” said Joseph.

 “The first question is why those particular seven?” asked ­Alessandro. “They weren’t distinctive.”

“They weren’t even very good,” said Chaz.

“Isn’t the answer simply ‘money’?” asked Liz in a lilting voice.

A few people nodded, but most stared. Perrin, having not had money historically, observed that when people had a lot of it, they wanted to eliminate it as a reason.

From Woman With Eyes Closed

“Look, I wish I could tell you,” Taylor continued. “I wish I could lay it all out for you. Kusnetsov has pretensions here; he’ll want to keep a low profile. This is what I deal in all the time. Intangibles.” He shrugged and shook his head.

And here was Taylor, more abstraction than person. A man who had just walked into her life out of nowhere, his lack of provenance more compelling for its lack of clarity. No, he wasn’t a sensible choice—but in regard to what exactly? The present made little sense, the future didn’t fit together. But had it ever? Though she had tried, her choices had never been smart. Right now, with her hand in his, she didn’t want to try to make predictions. Anyway, he couldn’t promise anything. There was only the feeling of his hand in hers, strong and warm and for the moment, protective. He pulled her close again, and she was back in that greenhouse, the very old greenhouse with wavering panes of glass that did so little to represent what was seen through them. Did it have to matter? Did anything matter at all? Without her will her old ways and her old world were crumbling, she had only a glimpse of their demise.

From Castles & Ruins

The demands on my father were only one aspect of it. That summer, back in the U.S., something different was coming. We all knew it, as if a collective breath were held. A frenzy of ecstasy, a far off brilliant sun pulled at us, and would eventually engulf the nation in a multi-colored blur. In Ireland each of us in our own way and for our own reasons, were grasping at an idyll, a last bit of quiet held away from realities violent and strange. In the post Ireland years my father’s career accelerated, at the same time the Vietnam war came in to the house in black and white, with the tack tack tack of gun battle, and the giant mixer sound of helicopters. The TV news spoke of X dead, X wounded, accompanied by footage of boys in trenches, bloody and bandaged boys on stretchers, boys in body bags. They were called casualties, a word I couldn’t make sense of in relation to the horror of it. No one could convince me that the war wasn’t happening around the corner, and wouldn’t soon come bursting onto our lawn. At the same time my parents were out more and more, at anti-war rallies, with other lovers and friends, and, as the revolution got rolling full tilt—lots of parties, my mother carrying her pot stash in a Peruvian style necklace, my father in a Nehru jacket. When I got off the school bus she was no longer home, but at her new writing studio in the next town, putting the finishing touches on the book she wrote about the Ireland summer.

From Castles & Ruins  

In Sagaponack there was a haunted house that we explored many times when I was small. We’d cross Sagg Road and step into a tangled wood, overgrown rose bushes hooking onto our coats. Then further in, a wooden house listed slightly to the side, its dusty windows staring, its shutters hanging at odd angles, the porch collapsed but navigable with her walking stick. Her step was buoyant as she jumped up onto it and I followed. We’d stay for hours, poking around. It was as if this wreck, with the sagging porch, the abandoned furniture in ghostly outline in the window frames, was where she really belonged. Not at home cooking, arranging flowers or doing something else boring, but in a fallen, ruined, abandoned house full of muted stories. 

From Novel in Progress

The Great White shark never sleeps. It has to keep moving to live, water washing over its gills, replenishing it. It’s called ram ventilation. Through deep seas and shallow, through night and day, it’s tail swishing side to side, it’s eye round and barren, it protects itself from death by ceaseless movement. It cannot stop. Moving forward, always forward, turning now and then, sharply, desultorily, toward the smell of blood, or to a mating ground; It has no self that it doesn’t actively create. It has no self in stillness. It has no relation to the ocean around it or the other creatures. It fears death more than others, because death is chasing it, always few steps behind. If one pillar falls away from this innate resolve, it might give in and fall asleep and sweetly drift, for the first time attuned to the ocean currents and the other creatures, having given up its lonely battle.

From Novel in Progress

“On this street almost everyone has a pool. Except for us. My father says we have the biggest and best right here,” he said, motioning to the sea. Polly wondered at an existence where these were the choices, and people were so at home in the world that unattractive naked bodies, like that painting over the fireplace, were just another aspect of things. She felt herself slipping into his realm eagerly if uncomfortably. Her own pliability, her blank strangeness was working for her, for once. This could be the beginning of something. The light was brilliant and clear, full of diamond shards and marigold wine, and smooth sheets and cotton smells and long perfect days where people loved each other always and never lied about it or died. Beau brought her a ginger ale, his hand touching hers when he handed her the cold glass. If not perfect entire days, Polly believed in perfect moments, and that perfect moments, no matter where or when, were devoid of time. No beginning and no ending. Just like the keen, diaphanous memories of her parents that had remained the same since she had woken up the hospital that day. The moments that you had with people, that was the true heaven, the true eternity. That’s all there was.