Just finished reading the Spring 2006 issue of The Kenyon Review. There was much remarkable writing within the pages, but the piece that cut right through my brain was the excerpt from Brad Kessler‘s Birds in Fall (which is a book I feel I now must get), which starts ominously–warning the reader that there will be an “ordeal” on this seemingly normal plane ride. Yet, that warning is quickly forgotten as we are charmed by the woman and her cello case sitting next to the narrator, just as he is. He keeps trying to engage her with bad jokes, but she will not have it.

Soon, though, as things begin to go awry, as cabin lights flicker and go out, they become as close as two people can be–they share that moment of waiting for death. But do they die in this instant? We do not know. All we know is that it is terrifying and beautiful and the narrator comes as close as he can to being the birds he studies–from air to sea, diving, hoping to swoop back up and yet making contact:

I could see the bones beneath my flesh like pieces of pottery. And then we were entering the sea.

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