Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Transit

transIT
transIT
by Rosaire Appel

Paperback
94 pages
$8.95
ISBN 0-932511-44-9

Hardback
$18.95
ISBN 0-932511-43-0


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In transiT, the reader is cast in the role of a stranger caught in a moldering, inconsequential city, a stranger thrown in among strangers. Chance encounters and haphazard eavesdropping present the local conditions. The climate is steamy and oppressive. The plumbing is bad. The population is threatened by disease and torpor. Private emotions pushed to the edge erupt in public spaces. In the café, a pivotal space, a young man toys with a glass. He sets it closer to the edge of the table—will he push it over? The floor is tile; the sound would be brilliant. A man who is ill forces himself to trudge to the top of a hill for a view. Such are some of the incidents in transiT—only partially witnessed, and often from more than one perspective.

These incidents are repeatedly intruded upon by ambient speech: fragments of conversation, reveries, obsessions, fits of passion, and voices reading aloud from an outdated book on survival in the tropics—which includes advice on how to tread servant, sickroom manners, the preservation of kid gloves. In transiT, language is used subtractively; accumulation does not ensure understanding.

At one point a statue is bombed. But the reader, as stranger, knows neither the history nor the politics of the place and cannot know what to make of it. This brings into focus our helplessness in the face of exclusion. transiT excludes in the manner of a nightmare that has its own interior logic, but can be neither resolved nor completely understood.

"Rosaire Appel's second novel offers up a radiantly original vision of experience punctuated with humor, fear, rumors of contentment, craven desire. The reader is led through a handful of passionately charged settings where incidents-both ordinary and extraordinary-are partially witnessed, interrupted, or intruded upon, then picked up again with an apparent seamlessness. The effect is magical. Each page informs, fascinates, challenges, and satisfies: transiT is nothing less than an artistic triumph."—Gail North, former Senior Editor, Cosmopolitan



Excerpt

 

He presides as if alone in the room, as if there is no one here to notice. One thinks for a moment that his face is familiar, the torso under the crumpled shirt, the condition of his concealed aspirations, his guard-gray cardboard-cold sense of waste. A knowing evolved for protection-projection-description does nothing to alter him. If he is known through recommendation, one recommendation forsaking all others…but he skillfully evades detection. He evades. One can sense his completing, his distaste for this moment by the flat, inflexible line of his mouth. But already he is starting to slip out of focus, neither memory nor fact can intrude. A woman joins him, he does not look up. Her voice is warm and tame, a light fur. She positions this fur as if he is listening "…the men got down on all fours like dogs, yipping and whining, can you imagine!" Amusement makes her syllables tremble, one can't hear each word, just the texture of fur. "I know who I am, I'm aware of the room, the people here, your face, I'm not ill," someone says in a low voice behind her. Here is the line between cup and saucer, here is the limit of voices. Here is the place where volumes collide or retreat or defeat one another. The pressure of confinement, the skill of preventing-in any beginning: indulgence, some liquid-a cup and saucer or a glass.