IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT OF A WATER LANDING by Christopher Noël

IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT OF A WATER LANDING

A Geography of Grief
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The sometimes moving, sometimes annoying lamentations of a young novelist (Hazard and the Five Delights, 1988) who has lost his lover. In January 1992 Brigid Clark, a young writer, was killed in an automobile accident on an icy Vermont road. Her live-in fiancÇ reveals his grief and his steps toward healing. Noâl's account begins about 15 months after the accident and ends two and a half years after Brigid's death. During that time he moves to Massachusetts, dates women he meets through a quirky personal ad in a local paper, tries hypnotherapy as a way of reaching Brigid, challenges himself with a diving vacation in Belize, ends what had seemed to be a promising new relationship, and moves back to Vermont. He remains obsessed, or at least possessed, by the idea of Brigid, still coming to terms with her absence from his life. Although most of the memoir is in Noâl's words, he has included many selections from Brigid's journal and other of her writings. The most memorable passages, however, are from neither of these young writers but from an audiotape Noâl made of the emergency room nurse who was with Brigid in her last hours and who tells him about it plainly, simply, and kindly. The facts of the accident are vague at first, as is the character of the young woman who has been killed, but by the narrative's end, Noâl has clarified both, although possibly not to his own satisfaction. At one point Noâl writes of feeling soured by the ``vinegar of self-consciousness, of grief orchestration,'' and later of his suspicion that he may be ``milking this whole experience, belaboring it for the sake of Being In It Longer.'' It is easy to agree with the author's own assessment.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8129-2679-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996