Monday, February 27, 2006

D'Ambrosio Redux -- The Bone Game

By coincidence, this week's New Yorker fiction is a new Charles D'Ambrosio story, "The Bone Game".

All I can say is wow. This one's going to take a while to digest.

On the surface, it's the story of Kype, a young man who has inherited his grandfather's fortune and taken it upon himself to dispose of the old man's ashes in northern Washington State. When the story opens, Kype has already picked up a hitchhiker, D'Angelo, a reckless Brooklynite who "always had that dream, to hitchhike out West." But no summary can do D'Angelo justice; he is a dark angel and a jester,
wearing a red Western shirt with pearlish plastic snaps and a turquoise bolo tie... he was chubby and short and he still wore the baggy pin-striped slacks and red high-top sneakers he’d left Brooklyn in, six months earlier. To Kype he looked like one of those midget clowns that rode Shetland ponies at rodeo intermissions.

Soon they pick up Nell Ides, an Indian girl with, let's say, loose morals, who lives with her great-grandmother on a boat "embosked" in blackberry brambles and swarming with bees. Eventually Kype, D'Angelo and Nell wind up by a river cooking salmon over a campfire. This turns into a wild, mystical scene that I won't try to summarize. You just have to read it.