This fifth installment of a series centered on Princeton examines themes of race, media manipulation, and time traveling via the subconscious.
Clovis’ (Time Is the Length to Forever, 2018, etc.) latest volume, like the preceding novels, comprises short chapters and stories. Many of these deal with racism. The author, for example, tells of slaves in the United States traveling through Princeton on their way to freedom in the North. But slavery unfortunately existed at that time in the city. And though slavery and segregation have been abolished, the author astutely notes instances of racism and discrimination still happening today. She asserts that CBS’ “all white staff” that will cover the 2020 presidential election shows the lack of diversity among journalists. Other chapters sharply criticize media-related incidents, including the murder of journalists chasing civil or political stories and people getting their news from Facebook, which sells users’ personal data. But the author promotes positivity as well, from the celebrated release of the Gregory Hines postage stamp to the upcoming 50-year commemoration of Sesame Street. Throughout her series, Clovis has discussed assessing the past, present, and future via “the quantum field of consciousness,” which combines theories from Jung and Einstein. In this book, she skillfully traverses the “labyrinth of the subconscious” in successive chapters. It’s a surreal but engaging section: The White Rabbit of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland assigns Clovis the task of retrieving the red sap of the Dragon’s Blood Tree. Even with this break in reality, the author’s prose evokes a visually arresting scene: “The garden grows and expands, breaking boundaries, to reveal the steep terrain of a Vertigo dizzying mountain.” Clovis’ dreamlike journey entails traveling to the past and future, but also deftly reflects her personal feelings and experiences. One of the most telling scenes is when the author enters a restaurant of white linens and walls, filled with white patrons who stop eating to stare at the sole dark-skinned diner.
A worthy selection of ardent musings, timely issues, and perceptive prose.