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Image provided by Michael Lukas

Michael Lukas
Doctoral Candidate English-CSPT/1st Yr. Writing Specialist TWC

Affiliation with UVic English: Graduate Student; Doctoral Candidate, 4th yr.

Special Book: The River Why, David James Duncan

When did you first read this book: It was recommended by Phyllis Kenevan, a philosophy professor specializing in existentialism and Nietzsche at the Univ. of Colorado. She argued to me in her office that he was the greatest living American prose writer at the time, and that Updike was the most over-rated.

Which sentence from this book has special significance for you?

“Having harbored two sons in the waters of her womb, my mother considers herself something off an authrority on human foetuses. The normal foetus, she says, is no swimmer; it is not fish-, seal-, eel-, or even turtlelike: it is an awkward alien in the liquid environment–a groping land creature confused by its immersion and anxious to escape.”

What does the sentence mean to you?

This is the opening sentence of the novel, epitomizing Duncan’s style: both playful and existential. Somehow, He defies the sedimentation of his metaphors into cliche through a diction that is both common and richly philosophical. His sincerity seems to me concretely grounded, as a result.