THE PROMISE OF ELSEWHERE By Brad Leithauser
In the opening pages of Brad Leithauser’s latest novel, a butterfly lands on young Louie Hake’s knee. This is a flashback to his childhood; 43-year-old Louie, the Louie who occupies the rest of this weirdly engaging book, has just landed in Rome, the first stop on an odyssey that will be “the trip of his life, or even — for Louie embraces an idiom of elevation — the Journey of His Life.” But the memory of that butterfly haunts him as he recalls how he sat with his father in Fallen Hills, a nondescript suburb of Detroit, and was visited by this almost otherworldly creature, weightless yet surprisingly large, alien and aristocratic: “The duplicated, mirroring mosaics of its jeweled wings are an animate astonishment.”
Sure enough, Louie’s personal butterfly effect brings chaos to his life, for he has glimpsed “perfection,” those emphatic italics witness to the significance of the moment. Perfection has otherwise eluded him, to say the least. He’s stuck teaching art history at a crappy liberal arts college in Ann Arbor. The fact that people assume he must teach at the University of Michigan only makes matters worse. His wife — his second wife, actually — has left him, and is blissfully ensconced in the Virgin Islands with her lover, Daryl. Ten years before, he had been diagnosed as bipolar; now, to cap it all off, he has learned that he is suffering from a degenerative eye disease and is slowly, inexorably, losing his vision. An epic trip to Europe is a way to reclaim his life.
It would be fair to ask, at this point, whether the world needs another novel about a middle-aged academic suffering from an existential crisis; also fair to inquire whether the tale of the American abroad hasn’t been done to death. Leithauser uses a restricted third-person narrative to create the claustrophobic room of Louie’s sensibility; yet the trick allows for the notion that another sensibility might be available, giving the book a nice leavening of irony.
The author’s admirers will know that he has ventured north before, most notably in his 1997 novel “The Friends of Freeland,” set in an imaginary nation between Greenland and Iceland. In an author’s note, Leithauser warns that the Greenland found in this book is “a few removes from real,” and it’s all the better for it.
Hake settles in with a grumpy Dane who runs a hotel, hardly worthy of the name, called the Rotten Egg. Meals are served by the Dane’s spectral children, who recall — to Louie and to us — the malevolent bairns in “The Turn of the Screw.” Here Leithauser’s prose becomes giddy and lustrous: from his descriptions of the microscopic diamonds Louie perceives in his toothpaste to the disturbing erotic drawings he finds hidden in the pages of a book and finally, soaringly, to the miraculous blues and whites of the landscape of ice that surrounds him.
“The Promise of Elsewhere” uses the ordinary as a prism, splitting the tropes with which it plays into a surprising spectrum of colors. I wasn’t sure, at the outset, how much time I’d want to spend with Louie. In the end, I was glad I went along for the ride.B:
【内】【阁】【有】【权】【力】【驳】【回】【皇】【帝】【的】【命】【令】，【更】【别】【提】【皇】【太】【孙】【了】！ 【皇】【太】【孙】【顿】【时】【怒】【瞪】【着】【燕】【锦】，【好】！【好】！【好】【一】【个】【燕】【锦】【啊】！ 【这】【一】【刻】，【皇】【太】【孙】【的】【心】【里】【涌】【起】【浓】【浓】【的】【杀】【机】，【真】【的】【想】【将】【燕】【锦】【给】【杀】【了】！ 【赵】【王】【世】【子】【见】【情】【况】【不】【对】【头】，【忙】【打】【圆】【场】，“【不】【就】【是】【一】【个】【小】【小】【的】【翰】【林】【院】【小】【官】，【何】【必】【如】【此】【剑】【拔】【弩】【张】【的】。【其】【实】【太】【孙】【的】【话】【也】【是】【有】【些】【道】【理】【的】。【不】【过】【案】【唐】【探】
【轰】——，【哧】—— 【伴】【随】【着】【奇】【异】【的】【声】【响】，【一】【圈】【暗】【蓝】【色】【的】【光】【晕】【以】【星】【罗】【学】【院】【战】【队】【为】【中】【心】【悄】【然】【扩】【散】，【就】【在】【那】【蓝】【色】【光】【晕】【扩】【散】【到】【极】【致】【的】【时】【候】。 【突】【然】，【无】【数】【根】【蓝】【银】【草】【从】【那】【光】【晕】【范】【围】【之】【内】【破】【地】【而】【出】，【将】【星】【罗】【学】【院】【战】【队】【的】【所】【有】【人】【全】【部】【顶】【上】【了】【空】【中】。 【危】【机】【来】【临】【之】【前】，【星】【罗】【学】【院】【战】【队】【的】【队】【员】【们】，【只】【来】【得】【及】【释】【放】【出】【自】【己】【的】【魂】【技】【护】【体】，【但】【是】2017年五行波色表【当】【陈】【二】【满】【心】【欢】【喜】【送】【走】【最】【后】【一】【批】【地】【主】【流】【民】【后】，【背】【着】【自】【己】【的】【小】【书】【包】，【准】【备】【叫】【上】【自】【己】【另】【外】【几】【个】【小】【伙】【伴】【回】【家】【吃】【肉】【的】【时】【候】，【转】【头】【又】【看】【见】【了】【一】【尊】【大】【佛】【从】【一】【辆】【低】【调】【的】【牛】【车】【上】【下】【来】。 【顾】【随】【意】【从】【车】【上】【跳】【下】【来】，【目】【睹】【了】【陈】【二】【面】【部】【表】【情】【的】【变】【化】：“【怎】【么】？【不】【欢】【迎】【我】？” “【怎】【么】【会】~【殿】【下】【想】【多】【了】。”【陈】【二】【卖】【笑】【道】。 “【这】【儿】【人】【都】【走】【的】【差】【不】
“【尽】【人】【事】，【听】【天】【命】。” 【听】【得】【析】【墨】【这】【句】【话】，【元】【清】【涧】【半】【睁】【的】【眼】【里】【满】【是】【狠】【厉】【的】【光】。 【什】【么】【叫】【尽】【人】【事】，【听】【天】【命】？ 【还】【不】【如】【说】【放】【弃】【抵】【抗】，【就】【由】【得】【那】【叶】【惊】【阑】【只】【手】【遮】【天】！ 【析】【墨】【的】【指】【尖】【在】【墨】【玉】【笛】【上】【轻】【敲】，【这】【种】【有】【别】【于】【其】【他】【声】【响】【的】【浅】【浅】【发】【音】，【使】【得】【他】【放】【缓】【了】【情】【绪】。 【他】【担】【心】【的】【不】【是】【赢】【不】【了】【叶】【惊】【阑】，【而】【是】【怕】【自】【己】【先】【乱】【了】【阵】【脚】。
【大】【军】【往】【南】【二】【十】【里】，【关】【羽】【下】【令】【全】【体】【下】【马】【休】【息】，【吃】【些】【干】【粮】，【补】【充】【体】【力】。 【曹】【洪】【不】【敢】【追】【击】，【因】【为】【他】【不】【知】【道】【关】【羽】【会】【有】【什】【么】【后】【招】，【他】【也】【不】【知】【道】【自】【己】【的】【后】【方】【关】【羽】【渡】【河】【之】【处】【还】【有】【没】【有】【其】【他】【兵】【力】。 【最】【主】【要】【的】【是】，【他】【的】【这】【个】【防】【御】【大】【阵】，【摆】【在】【这】【儿】【才】【能】【发】【挥】【出】【最】【大】【的】【战】【斗】【力】，【才】【能】【让】【全】【是】【骑】【兵】【的】【关】【羽】【也】【心】【存】【顾】【忌】。【一】【但】【动】【起】【来】，【被】【骑】【兵】【一】