An Answer from Limbo: A Novel

An Answer from Limbo: A Novel

An Answer from Limbo: A Novel

An Answer from Limbo: A Novel

Excerpt

When the answer came to me, it reminded me of my school days when, out of nowhere, you suddenly knew that Ankara was the capital of Turkey. Or in algebra you found out what x was. Because I knew one thing, everything else was simple. Simple as genius.

And yet, this morning, before it began to fit together, I seemed to be in a low curve on my life's graph, a curve which fell to its lowest point at breakfast when I opened a letter from my mother, a letter which carried me back, not to the Ireland she wrote of, but to Home, that Moscow of my mind, forever shut in from the rest of the world; forever shut out. There, in the house where I was born, I could see my mother as young, pretty, quick to laugh, quick to scold. In that memory she had nursed me; when things were wrong, she made them right. It seemed impossible that the woman who wrote this trite, lonely letter could be the mother I remembered; impossible that she, not I, was the child now. Yet two weeks ago Ted Ormsby wrote to say that the allowance I am sending her is no longer enough for her to live on. It is none of his goddamn business, of course, and I might have forgotten his warning. But now, with my mother's handwriting in front of me, I was uneasily reminded of my duty. I put the letter down. The spindly table at which I breakfasted trembled with the adjacent tremor of the washing machine. I remember thinking that here in New York I was doing that which my mother would frown upon: eating in the kitchen. Opposite me, my wife Jane was reading the New York Times, unconcerned by the way the children were messing with their breakfast eggs. My children's . . .

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