Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Atlantic Retreat," by Stephen Busby

This is a mythic story. After Joseph Campbell there was a flourish of these and many failed to offer more than the old tales. But here I find the veiled references to the River Styx, the ferry transports, the coins, and the marshy bog deepen the character’s plunge toward testing and self-evaluation. Also, as part of my enjoyment of the story, I have weathered a storm on the Atlantic island of Ocracoke during the off-tourist season in November, and this character’s experience rings with truth. Enduring one of his challenges, lyricism buoys his spirit and moves the story with rhythm: “I’m slipping more on the steep rubble-ground but won’t stop now—what are you equipped for—what are you going to do—I go on hauling myself upwards: this is what I do, there is only this, as I slip and slide and grip onto rocks and pull and pant to go on climbing; … .” To feel the existential experience of grief and loneliness that straddle realism and mythology turn here in R.KV.R.Y.

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