The New Yorker Reader: “The Visitor,” by Marisa Silver

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11/29/2007 3:00 PM |

Online here.

So, yeah, parallel-tracking narrative about Candy, a stoic young V.A. hospital nurse’s aide, and her angrily, electively mute new patient (a nearlt limbless young soldier), and her haunted family life. (Haunted by the memory of her junkie mother, and also maybe by a ghost that visits the apartment she shares with her grandmother. The ghost may or may not have a rational explanation; it definitely has a metaphorical one.) Things are going along pretty well, if predictably, with the whole interweaving of the present with telling memories, and varieties-of-coping narrative threads, until the patient wets his bed out of spite, and Candy has to clean him up.

“She dressed him in a fresh gown, holding him against her chest as she
tied the strings. She knew that she could not hold him by the shoulders
to lay him back against his pillows because of his pain there, so she
kept her arms around his ribs and leaned him all the way down as if she
were embracing him. When she pulled away, his eyes were open, and she
saw, for a brief second, the arrow of his hatred for her and for
everything that had happened to him bending back on itself and aiming
straight into his own heart.”

Oh. Oh my. Oh my oh my.