The Enchanted: A Novel (P.S.)
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For the narrator locked inside an ancient prison, waiting for death, life is full of magic, from the golden horses that stampede underground to the tiny men who hammer away inside the stone walls. That the enchanted place is a death row matters less to him than the people he watches from the bars of his cage: the lady, an investigator hired to help the men escape execution; the fallen priest, brought by shame to work the row; and the kindly warden, who ushers men to death.
As the lady digs deep into the past of one of the men on the row, she finds secrets that ring chillingly familiar, and begins a journey that will bring all of them to unexpected salvation.
Guilt and innocence collide in this story of the beauty that can exist in the midst of despair. A luminous novel about redemption, the poetry that can be found in the unfathomable, and the human capacity to transcend even the most nightmarish reality, The Enchanted is a new classic.
down a hall into a large room. They sit in folding chairs and hold their new papers in their laps. It could be a classroom except for the bars on the windows. “You came to prison as punishment, not for punishment,” the guard at the head of the room tells them. “Make the most of it.” The new men are quickly led through the system. They are given a sheaf of papers: work assignments, cellblock assignments, a small manual of religious services, and a thicker manual of disciplinary rules. The guard
like it was whaling times.” He chuckles. “We’d come up here to visit him and my grandma, and that’s all the old fart would talk about. You’d think he hadn’t married and had kids or nothing else but those damn whaling ships.” He hangs his towel, his eyes faraway. “Want to go see my babies?” “Sure,” she says, and though she doesn’t know exactly where he is going, she gets up and follows him out the back door. The old pasture is littered with broken-down wheelbarrows. She feels peaceful walking
walls again and again as I hear him laugh. The warden comes two days later. I’ve been sitting with the blanket over my head. The trays have fallen willy-nilly on the floor, spilling untouched food. “I heard what happened.” The warden stands outside my cell. “Striker’s an asshole.” They carried Striker off to the hole. It didn’t have anything to do with me. The guards don’t like shit. It has germs. When I first came here, one inmate shit-bombing another wasn’t such a big deal, but now, with
seeking warmth. They bite one another with bland fury if one gets in the way. Their bite marks leave open gray wounds like dead clay. No blood or fluid comes from the wounds. You could put a penny in each gray slot. When I am dead, I will be put in the oven and burned and shoveled into a can like Striker and the others. I am okay with that. I will be no more than ashes. It would be better if I were less, but a can of ashes is okay. What I don’t like is the thought of the flibber-gibbets
voice. She rode silently in his car for a while, her hand on the handle. Finally, like the teenager she was, she could no longer maintain silence and broke into conversation, telling him all sorts of stuff about her little sister, a girl named Stephanie who lived in foster care. “She likes seafood,” she burbled. “I’m going to buy her a leather jacket for Christmas.” Her apartment was a studio in a run-down building above the freeway. His heart vanished when he heard the cockroaches scatter as