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‘The Glass Hotel,’ by Emily St. John Mandel: An Excerpt


1

Begin at the end: plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm’s wild darkness, breath gone with the shock of falling, my camera flying away through the rain—

2

Sweep me up. Words scrawled on a window when I was thirteen years old. I stepped back and let the marker drop from my hand and still I remember the exuberance of that moment, that feeling in my chest like light glinting on crushed glass—

3

Have I risen to the surface? The cold is annihilating, the cold is all there is—

4

A strange memory: standing by the shore at Caiette when I was thirteen years old, my brand-new video camera cool and strange in my hands, filming the waves in five-minute intervals, and as I’m filming I hear my own voice whispering, “I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home,” although where is home if not there?

[ Return to the review of “The Glass Hotel.” ]

5

Where am I? Neither in nor out of the ocean, I can’t feel the cold anymore or actually anything, I am aware of a border but I can’t tell which side I’m on, and it seems I can move between memories like walking from one room to the next—

6

“Welcome aboard,” the third mate said the first time I ever boarded the Neptune Cumberland. When I looked at him something struck me, and I thought, You—

7

I am out of time—

8

I want to see my brother. I can hear him talking to me, and my memories of him are agitating. I concentrate very hard and abruptly I’m standing on a narrow street, in the dark, in the rain, in a foreign city. A man is slumped in a doorway just across from me, and I haven’t seen my brother in a decade but I know that it’s him. Paul looks up and there’s time to notice that he looks terrible, gaunt and undone, he sees me but then the street blinks out—

[ Return to the review of “The Glass Hotel.” ]

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