Glaciers (A Tin House New Voice)
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Glaciers unfolds internally, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf, and portrays how the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life.
Isabel is a single, twentysomething thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska. Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel’s sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories―the remnants―of those around her and she begins to tell her own story.
she loves him for it—for being unexpected, for making her think differently, for setting her thoughts on the future, the quaint narrative she nurtures of the two of them in the world together; and that she cannot fathom why, after all he went through to arrive here, in this city, at the same time and place as Isabel, he would go far away to kill people, or worse, to blow away altogether this time. He looks up the sidewalk, measuring some distance up the street. Stepping off the curb, he lifts
the closet floor and opens the window to let in a breeze and a wash of light. The cat perches on the sill. Isabel pulls her dress out of the little cellophane bag from the vintage store. She lays the dress out across the end of her bed, skirt just falling down the side, then digs a pair of black open-toed heels from the closet and places them on the floor below, so that it looks like an invisible girl is stretched out, lounging there. The postcard girl. What did L do, Isabel wonders, the night
She moves more quickly than she would like, in the fresh air, drawn along by all the other moving bodies. Shoes clicking and clapping around her. Suits and leather satchels brushing past, disappearing through glass doors, into tall buildings. Trains stopping and starting. The bus pulling away from the curb with a raspy cough. A few yellow ginkgo leaves flutter from a tree, and Isabel watches them eddy around the elk statue and into the fountain below. No one else seems to notice, moving so
small window. Anne’s tree survived the war, but Isabel read in the newspaper recently that it is rotting from within, and there was talk of cutting it down. Isabel lifts her gaze to the umbrella of leaves overhead, framed by the tall buildings. Dutch elms and London plane trees among the ginkgos. Chestnut leaves would be too big to fit into a hat, she thinks. Isabel waits for the light, shuddering with the easterly breeze at an intersection, skirt clinging to her bare legs, skin prickling all
exhausted, papery sigh, the pages fell out one by one and drifted to the floor. Isabel bent down to pick up the pages, and there was Leo’s name, on page ninety-seven, next to a passage about “the travels of youth, the cheapness of things,” and Amsterdam. After work that day, she went to a barbeque at a coworker’s house. Spoke was there, too, though he was new to the library then. When Isabel saw him sitting alone at the kitchen table, she quickly took the seat across from him. After hellos, they