Earthquakes, erosion and other terrors of terra firma parallel the crumbling world of a young Mormon woman who slowly watched her father drink himself to death.
“I had a dad,” Walker says. “He drank like a fish. He drank like a fish in a city that has no water.” The city in question is Salt Lake City, and the pain and anguish the author experienced there ran as deep as nearby Lake Meade. Walker, a sensitive writer, candidly reflects on all of it in a way that is both raw and cerebral. At some point, she says, the senses of self and place mixed together in an emulsification that can no longer be separated. The author performs the same bit of alchemy in other environs and at other stations in her life. The lushness of Portland, Oregon—“skies mottled gray, egg-shell gray, steel gray or concrete gray deliver see-through rain, blue rain, river rain, ocean rain to make all the variations of green”—where Walker studied in college, vividly contrasts the aridness of Salt Lake City. Each time Walker looks without at her surroundings, she seems to peer deeper into her own soul; without geography’s help, the introspection might be unmanageable, as if water and stones help convey the depths of her own experience. In particular, water—and the lack of it—plays a huge part in the consistently moving memoir. Although highly personal, the book flows with an undercurrent of what it means to be a girl in this world. For Walker, under the pall of Mormonism and a tragic father, those broader concerns eventually burst into a torrent of ugly fear upon learning that she was about to give birth to a baby girl of her own. She realized that the task of protecting the innocent newborn could be impossible—a seismic shift in her coming-of-age.
Highly emotional and intensely thought-provoking.