“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

Cosmos by Arapy


“I’m not a girl—I’m a woman. I want things. Shall I ever have them? To write all the morning and then to get lunch over quickly and to write again in the afternoon and have supper and one cigarette together and then to be alone again till bedtime—and all this love and joy that fights for outlet, and all this life drying up, like milk, in an old breast. Oh, I want life! I  want friends and people and a house. I want to give and to spend.” ~ Katherine Mansfield,  May 15, 1915

Tuesday late afternoon. Sunny and very warm.

Field of Wild Flowers by Valeri Simov (Pixdaus)

I’ve spent several hours online looking for a transmission for the Dodge. Vic, our neighbor, is ready to start work on the truck. We need to buy a transmission and a transfer case. I’m tired of speaking to men who talk too quickly, mumble, then get agitated if I ask them to repeat what they said. You know the kind of person of whom I am speaking—they don’t like speaking on the phone, so they rush to try to get off as soon as possible.

As a result, I have a dull headache in the back of my skull.

Speaking of which, I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but my lumbar puncture came back normal, no fungus, no infection. So now what?

I rescheduled my appointment with my gastro guy, which was supposed to be yesterday. I rescheduled for next Monday, and I must keep this one as I really need to know the results of my last two tests, that and tell him that the new medication that he gave me has stopped working. I wake up every morning with my mouth tasting like acid. I can’t keep eating Tums all day long to supplement the new medicine, which is supposed to be so much better than Nexium, but for me at least, it’s not.

Last night I dreamed that I had taken up smoking again, which is so far-fetched. I’ve been trying to get Corey to stop for years, to no avail. I’ve never been hooked, but I used to smoke in college during exams, and I tend to want to smoke if I’m in a bar or singing karaoke (neither of which has happened in quite a while).

Yesterday I decided to sweep the doggy hair tumbleweeds that were all over the wood flooring. After I did that, I decided that the floors really needed to be cleaned, so I mopped the kitchen, bathroom, and entry way, and cleaned the wood floors with Murphy’s oil wax, all of this on top of keeping the laundry going all day. By 9 p.m. I was hot, hurting, and exhausted, so no posting for me even though I had already picked out my quotes.

“You want to live—but do you know how to live? You are  scared of dying—and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?” ~ Seneca

VIctorian Walled Garden, Bellahouston Park, Glascow, Scotland by dalbera (FCC)

Last night, Eamonn picked up Brett, and the two of them went with Alexis to see their grandfather in the hospital. Once again, I did not see Alexis. Brett said that his grandpa looks bad and that he was really tired, but he did recognize everyone. I know that for Brett anyway, having his grandfather be more cognizant helped to make the visit a bit more bearable.

I’m going to try to go with Ann later in the week if possible. I’m hoping that I don’t run into my ex or my step-m-in-law while I’m there. The prospect of seeing either or both makes me cringe, but it won’t keep me from visiting

My gardenia bush is in bloom, so perhaps I’ll cut some blooms to take when I go. My f-in-law got into raising roses when he married his second/current wife. Ann told me that when she went to see him, he mentioned that he needed to cut some roses for her mother because she would like that. I’m thinking that in his final days, he may be feeling a bit of guilt about how he left my m-in-law for the other woman, but I am only surmising. Who knows how the brain works when the body begins to shut down.

I would imagine that the past and the present begin to comingle, that time ceases to be linear and reverts to being circular, that things long forgotten come back to the forefront and that the most recent memories fade most easily. It’s all part of the mystery.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given the door will open.” ~ Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Wildflowers, Oro Valley, Arizona

Our brains are such interesting organs. They are the seat of our emotions and the housing for our logic. Everything that we know, that we feel, that we think—it all comes from our brains. Our very consciousness arises from the little grey cells. Our dreams, passions, likes, and dislikes all reside within this three-pound organ, give or take a few ounces. We are born with the capacity for such emotions as joy, happiness, fear, and shyness, but the nurturing we receive affects how these emotions are developed.

Our brains are almost full-sized when we are born, and a newborn’s brain contains most of the brain cells for life. Interestingly, our brains stop growing around age 18. Does this explain why teenagers act they way that they do?

Some disorders originate from the brain, like my m-in-law’s Parkinson’s Disease. Psychiatric conditions such as my depression are thought to arise from a brain dysfunction. My brother-in-law’s brain damage from the car accident has resulted in his impaired vision, and cerebral cortex damage means that he cannot speak. My daughter Caitlin’s malignant ependymoma was located in the fourth ventricle of her brain.

Because the human brain is about 75 percent water, it is very susceptible to damage from alcohol and drugs, something my ex should probably consider when he’s on his sixth beer. Alcohol also weakens the connections between neurons. Also consider that smoking is bad for the brain as it causes brain cells to die and stops neurogenesis, the process of creating new brain cells.

And then, of course, there is love, which does not reside in the heart as the ancients believed, but rather in the brain. Specifically, fight, flight, anger, and love all reside in the most primitive part of the brain, the brain stem, or the lizard brain, so called because it resembles the entire brain of reptiles. This area of the brain, located near the base of the skull, hearkens back to the dinosaur brain, interestingly enough.

“The silence one hopes for, no echoes of recrimination. Dreams reside there.” ~ Robert Gibbons, from “XI,” Rhythm of Desire and Resistance

Field of Poppies

I read a mind-blowing article (pun intended) called “Humans Have Three Brains,” by James Thornton. According to Thornton, human have three brains: the lizard brain, the dog brain, and the human brain.

The lizard brain, which developed first, is the smallest. It controls “breathing, vision, bodily movement” and also allows “fierce territorial fights, lusty bouts of mating, and displays of anger.” Thornton also contends that lizard brains do not allow for complex states such as loyalty, which is why an alligator mother will leave her eggs. Loyalty comes from the dog brain.

Mammals came into being about 100 million years ago. The mammalian or dog brain that resides atop the lizard brain is the complex limbic system. Thornton says that the dog brain accounts for the richer experiences, such as love and loyalty.

Then there is the human brain, the neo-cortex, which developed a few hundred thousand years ago with the appearance of the apes. This brain  gives rise to poetry, art, language, and reason: “It is inside this human brain that mathematics and music, deception and politics, religion and racism live. It is the Machiavelli as well as the Mozart brain, the Eichman as well as the Einstein brain.”

Thornton posits that these brains work inter-dependently; the human brain contains language, but the separate dog and lizard brains contain emotions:

The older brains cannot speak. They can only feel and act. This is where the self-contradictory nature of so much human behavior comes from. It explains why we can cheat on someone we love: each of our brains is pursuing different kinds of satisfaction.

The lizard brain is moved to lust. The dog brain is moved to love and loyalty. The human brain is moved to the idea of romance and a dream of ethics. (The human brain is also moved to sadomasochism and premeditated murder.)

Apparently, humans have different kinds of memory also. According to Thornton, there are “independent memory systems in the neo-cortex and the limbic system. The big human brain has the intellectual memory where we remember facts and phone numbers. The dog brain has an emotion-based memory. It is slower to learn but retains memories longer. In fact it never forgets your experiences. As we age the neo-cortical memory degrades and we have senior moments. This doesn’t happen to the limbic brain.”

“Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world,
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it’s evening.” ~ Salvatore Quasimodo

Echoes by KarolZ

Our brains are soft and fatty. They create enough wattage to illuminate a light bulb. They are the actual seat of power in the human body, but they are also fragile even though the organ itself can feel no pain. A stroke can do irreparable harm to a brain, as can bruising of the brain and oxygen deprivation.

We can choose to enhance our brain’s capabilities by reading more and learning other languages, and we can stint the growth of another’s brains through sensory deprivation and abuse. Eating seafood regularly can decrease our susceptibility to dementia. Oxytocin can make us feel love and be more receptive to sex; it can make us feel content and reduce anxiety. Endorphins can relieve pain and control our appetites, and our brains produce both of these hormones.

The brain is an enigma. It is wiredrawn like a finely spun web: intricate, beautiful, strong and simultaneously fragile. I knew a woman who worked at Old Dominion, seemingly healthy, in her 30’s, who died in an instant from a brain aneuryism. There was no warning. She was in the kitchen, and her husband heard her say, ‘Oh.” By the time he got there from the bedroom, she was dead.

What it boils down to for me is the mystery, how the scope of emotions can reside in something that only makes up about 2 percent of our total body weight.  How misery and elation can both come from the same place. How our ability to reason logically is in proximity to our ability to be devious. How the invisible, the intangible, and the immeasurable—love, loyalty, hate, and happiness—are manifest along with the tangible—blinking, yawning, talking, and seeing.

I will tell you this: Of all the parts of my body, I think my brain is the sexiest, and it’s the part that I like the best.

More later. Peace.

Music by Michelle Branch, “Are You Happy Now?”


Gradual Clearing

Late in the day the fog
wrung itself out like a sponge
in glades of rain,
sieving the half-invisible
cove with speartips;
then, in a lifting
of wisps and scarves, of smoke-rings
from about the islands, disclosing
what had been wavering
fishnet plissé as a smoothness
of peau-de-soie or just-ironed
percale, with a tatting
of foam out where the rocks are,
the sheened no-color of it,
the bandings of platinum
and magnesium suffusing,
minute by minute, with clandestine
rose and violet, with opaline
nuance of milkweed, a texture
not to be spoken of above a whisper,
began, all along the horizon,
gradually to unseal
like the lip of a cave
or of a cavernous,
single, pearl-
engendering seashell.

~ Amy Clampitt


“We search for patterns, you see, only to find where the patterns break. And it’s there, in that fissure, that we pitch our tents and wait.” ~ Nicole Krauss, from “Great House”

Snowy, Snowy Night by Miranda Wildman (mirandawildmanart.com) 


“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” ~ Frederick Douglass

Snow Glow by John Rawlinson (Flckr creative commons)

Sunday afternoon. Cold and cloudy.

It snowed last night for several hours. Snow in early December—not normal for this area. Of course all of the snow was gone this morning, but it was pretty while it lasted.

I’ve been on a cleaning binge for the past two days. It takes so much longer to do what I used to do in one Saturday afternoon. I have to clean a little and then take a break, so I usually visit my tumblr during breaks to see what has been posted most recently on the dashboard. I find that I really enjoy tumblr; I read somewhere that tumblr is the in-depth equivalent of Facebook, which makes sense to me. I mean, FB is nice for finding out how your friends in other places are doing, but the same can be accomplished with a phone call or e-mail.

Very often on tumblr, a predominant theme will show up on the dash quite by accident (e.g., book burning, war, silence). One individual starts with a few posts, and then other like-minded individuals join the thread. It’s a different kind of social networking. The most important thing is not the statement on how you are feeling, but the posts that reflect how you are feeling, or what you are doing, or what you are thinking.

For someone like me who loves quotes, photography, and art, it’s a treasure chest, and with each visit I find something new. The only problem is that as tumblr become more popular, the site’s servers are having a hard time keeping up with the traffic.

“True alchemy lies in this formula: ‘Your memory and your senses are but the nourishment of your creative impulse.’” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations

Fall Snow (Pixdaus)

So aside from Eamonn’s room, the house is clean. My intent is to decorate sometime this week so that I’m not doing everything at the last minute again this year. I have the wreath on the front door, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I did spend some time on YouTube yesterday creating my country/folk playlist. A few nights ago I watched CMT’s songs of the decade special, which reminded me of how much I actually like country music, something I would not have said a decade ago. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of traditional country, with the twang and such; I’m more of a crossover fan, heartache, love, and betrayal Keith Urban, Rascall Flatts, and Sugarland style.

I remember watching a CMT special on the best 100 country love songs several years ago. Corey was out on the boat, and by the time the show was over I was a blubbery mess. I called Corey, and when I told him what I had watched, he understood perfectly why I was crying. Country music has a way of doing that to me.

I amassed a playlist of 86 songs in just a few hours. Who knew I knew that many country and folk songs . . .

“The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” ~ Ken Kesey 

Snowstorm (Pixdaus)

Corey is at work. He got off at 11 p.m. last night and had to go back in at 7 this morning; he works until 8 tonight. Getting hours is great, but I have to say that the scheduling lacks forethought. I know that scheduling people is hard; I had to schedule 50 people at a time, and it’s a great big headache. But this sergeant doesn’t even allow Corey to get a good night’s sleep before asking him to work 13 hours.

I know that he’s really tired of port security, and I don’t envy him having to stand watch on a ship for 8 hours in the freezing cold. As he said, at least when he’s on a tugboat, he’s never outside for eight hours at a time.

Here’s hoping that with 2011 we get to start the year on a new path. It seems that I’ve said that so many times in the past few years. I just don’t really know what to think any more, and I certainly don’t know what I should hope for

“The books we need are the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation—a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.” ~ Franz Kafka

Snow on Rose by Russell.Tomlin

I am very behind in my reading and reviewing. I have received a few advanced reader’s copies that I need to read and review before the end of the year. And since I hope to get some books for Christmas, I really need to finish at least two of the books that I am currently reading. One is by Elizabeth George, and the other is by P. D. James—two of my very favorite authors.

I’ve been reading about the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and I think that that’s the next series that I want to tackle. We got a Costco flyer in the mail, and the entire set in hardback is available online, so maybe if I get a little cash sometime soon, I might be able to order it.

I also want to read Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. I’ve read a lot of Sylvia Plath, but not much of Ted Hughes. I think that I, like many people, blame Hughes for Plath’s death, which is not really fair. The reality is that Plath would have committed suicide at one point or another in her life, and if she had been found in time on the day she stuck her head in the oven, then she most likely would have tried again. Certainly no one can say for sure.

“There comes a time in every life when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn to know the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ~ Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Tree Branches in Snow by D. Sharon Pruitt (Flckr creative commons)

Tortured souls who make up their minds to commit suicide most often do so eventually unless they have some kind of major change or epiphany.

Life is hard, harder for some than others. Some people move through their days as if covered in teflon, nothing penetrating or touching. But if nothing bad can touch them, then neither can anything good get through the protective armor. Other people walk through life with their hearts, souls, and psyches on the outside—the walking wounded who never seem to heal.

And then there is the space between through which most of us move. We suffer storms and sometimes find ourselves blinded by relentless deluges. And then we take a few more steps and move into the clear, sometimes even stumbling into brilliance.

I have no way of foretelling what the coming days and months have waiting in store for me and those I love. I know what we need and what I wish, but life’s patterns are only discernible in retrospect. I only know that asking why some things work and others go terribly wrong is akin to spitting into the wind.

Reasons get tangled like briars, and sometimes thoughts are so black that no light can illuminate the darkness surrounding them. But sometimes just waiting for the bitter wind to stop howling is enough to get through the night.  

The heart, as Ondaatje describes it, it an organ of fire, moving through joy and sorrow alike in search of what it needs to survive. It’s all that we can do.

More later. Peace. 

One of the saddest songs ever, “Whiskey Lullabye,” by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss


Waking at 3 a.m.

Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn’t matter—even in that
big room no one can see,
you push with your eyes till forever
comes in its twisted figure eight
and lies down in your head.

You think water in the river;
you think slower than the tide in
the grain of the wood; you become
a secret storehouse that saves the country,
so open and foolish and empty.

You look over all that the darkness
ripples across. More than has ever
been found comforts you. You open your
eyes in a vault that unlocks as fast
and as far as your thought can run.
A great snug wall goes around everything,
has always been there, will always
remain. It is a good world to be
lost in. It comforts you. It is
all right. And you sleep.

~ William Stafford 

Dark Reading in the Bright Light of Day


Cover of The Glister (U.S.)

Mood and Malice: Sacrifice and Grace in The Glister

After two days of perfect sunshine, a front moved in early this morning, and we now have dark skies and thunderstorms. A few funnel clouds have been spotted across the water on the Peninsula, but nothing here yet.

I went out in between storms and sprayed my lounge cushion and my canvas chair with a cleaner that the rain can wash off. A few years ago I was fortunate to pick up one of those reclining canvas chairs for only $25 at the end of the season. Normally, they sell for $70 to $80 dollars. It is a wonderfully comfortable chair, especially for reading.

Since the weather is so gloomy, I thought that it would be the perfect day to write about the book that I finished yesterday. It’s called The Glister (Glister in Europe, which is far better as the definite article before Glister doesn’t really fit the story as well). The book, which is by poet and novelist John Burnside, has been classified as a mystery, thriller, and horror. 

I’ve actually had the book since its U.S. release, but it had become buried in my stack of books to be read, and I didn’t find it until a few days ago. Glister is a great read for so many reasons.

Probing the Mysteries of The Glister: Structure

The Glister is told in second and first person, which can sometimes be very awkward if the author is not very adept; however, Burnside moves between the two quite well. The story is divided into two sections that encompass only 228 pages, but Burnside fills those pages with enough character, symbolism and narrative to flesh out a complexly-woven story of sin, redemption, life, death, love, apathy, good, evil, mysticism, and morality.

The pace is both prolonged and transitory. As one character describes it, “a page turner”: a page that is “so good, you can’t bear to leave it behind.” The setting is somewhere in the headlands of Scotland, and the time is ephermal: References are made to Dorothy Lamour and Matthew Modine, Dr. Kildare and the Internet. The deliberate vagueness in place and time assist in make the story a generalized, figurative post-apocalyptic tale.

Burnside’s complex sentences have a wonderful rhythm.  His prose has the resonance of a poet, particularly in the more evocative descriptive passages of even the most seemingly inconsequential things as seen through the main character, Leonard’s eyes:

It would have been immense once, that boat; now it’s just a broken hull, the decks rusting, the lower levels a mass of rotting stairs and gangways, dangerous and unsteady under my feet, leading down to a reddish darkness, were the vast, stagnant tanks lie heavy with salt and nickel. This was where everything led to once: the road, the train tracks, the walkways—their only purpose had been to fill huge boats like this with unimaginable quantities of poison and fertilizer and dark, oily liquors that would travel halfway around the world in the sealed hull while great oceans raged around them.

“Just on the point of being seen”

The story moves immediately into the character of John Morrison, the town’s policeman. It only takes a few pages for the reader to realize that Morrison has no business being a policeman. He is too timid and wants only to be left alone to tend his garden, and when the town’s teenage boys begin to disappear, Morrison’s inadequacies become all too apparent.

Morrison find the body of the first boy who disappears, Mark Wilkinson, and because the policeman is overwhelmed by the situation, he becomes complicit in a cover up, one that allows for four more boys to be taken. Oddly, the adults in Innertown accept these disappearances; the parents make inquiries at first, but eventually, everyone buys into the line that the boys have run away, left for the big city. Only the children speculate as to what has really happened to their schoolmates.

"Trees in the Mist," by magikeith*

However, Morrison’s character is actually a map of the character of almost all of the adults in Headland, which has been divided into “Innertown,” where the working class live, and “Outertown,” where the big houses are.

Most of the adults in Headland are depicted as impotent, powerless to do anything with their lives which have been ruined in every way by the chemical plant, the place that at first was the salvation of the town, and then later, became the source of the town’s demise.

Everything in Headland is poisoned by the runoff from the chemical plant; the people suffer from unexplained diseases and mysterious psychological problems.  Mutant sea creatures have been brought up from the waters, and the trees in the forest are even referred to as “poisoned.” References to hell abound:

That’s what makes it hell. Some random principles wanders through the world, choosing people for no good reason and plunging them into hell. Grief for a child. Horrifying sickness. Noises and faces coming from nowhere, punctuated by terrible minutes of lucidity, just long enough to take stock of where you are. And you are in hell.

The overwhelming ennui that cloaks the town and its people is stifling. While the adults spend their time either glued to televisions or lying in bed awaiting death, the young people of the town run wild, like feral cats. The teenagers spend their time committing pointless acts of violence, having sex with multiple partners, foraging in dumps for animals to torture, and exploring the skeleton of the remains of the plant.

The only power that is displayed is in the character of Brian Smith, a thinly drawn character who is more of a caricature of the poison that infects everything in Headland. Smith pulls strings in the background, but other than one chapter, his presence is mostly referential, as is the absence of the Consortium, the former owners of the chemical plant who deserted the people of Headland when things began to sour.

But Smith’s character actually does not need more presence as the heart of the story is the best friend of one of the “lost boys.” Readers do not encounter the true narrator of the story until page 50, and even then, the reader does not learn his full name until almost 20 pages later. Leonard Wilson admittedly does not like kids, is called a misanthrope by his teacher, and spends most of his time alone, reading or exploring the old chemical plant.

Absorbed by the stories of Melville, Dostoevsky, Conrad, and Proust, Wilson is one of the few people in Innertown who seems to be aware of all that is happening to the town and its people. When forced to write an essay on philanthropists by the teacher who labels him a misanthrope, Leonard chooses to write about grace and for good measure, includes an extended metaphor about Innertown and how the citizens are “trapped, how they can’t imagine any other life . . . Innertown is a young settlement that grew old before it time, old and tired, the people bound to this soil . . . by inertia.”

Few people escape the Headland, and those who do, never look back. As Leonard says, “People from the Innertown don’t leave, not even to go on holiday or to visit relatives. They talk about leaving all of the time, of course, but they never actually get out. Leonard’s mother, though, escapes Innertown, abandoning her young son and her husband because she has “her whole life ahead of her.” Leonard understands his mother, but that does not stop him from hating her for leaving.

Cover of The Glister (UK)

“A hisory of pain and loneliness”

It would be easy to assume that the disappearance of the teenage boys is the main plot of the story, but it isn’t. Or it is, depending upon how you interpret the story. Contextually, being able to interpret Glister is undoubtedly the most overwhelming aspect of the story: readers who like their stories to unfold cleanly, without subtext and sub-subtext will not appreciate the many layers of this book.

Glister deals with the rape of the land and the consequences that ensue. It encompasses the mystery of the boys: Where do they go? Who is taking them? Why? The book also deals with the very real and complex issues facing the young: meaningless sex without love, helplessness, hopelessness, and acceptance, or the lack thereof.

The people who surround Leonard are all symbols of something far deeper: Elspeth, the girl who uses her body to try to find comfort, John the librarian, who on the surface appears to be one thing, but shows his true colors in his enthrallment with violence and death in the abstract, Leonard’s father, who doesn’t speak until the moments before his death, representing the lack of any parental guidance or love, Jimmy, who can spot weakness and has a penchant for senseless violence, and finally, the enigmatic Moth Man.

But ultimately, the biggest symbol is that of religion: the books two sections are The Story of Job and The Fire Sermon. Morrison, whose character serves as bookends to the story, builds a shrine to the lost boys, referring to it as a “sacred place.” Leonard refers to the chemical plant reverentially, seeing it as both destructive and beautiful. The “lost boys” are sacrificial lambs for a greater good. There are allusions to blessings, mercy, the “Angel of the Lord,” and “divine appointment.” There is even a warped attempt at resurrection after a particularly violent incident that results in the death of an innocent man.

Near the end, Morrison, the weak, pathetic man who did nothing to save the “lost boys,” has one of the biggest revelations:

The idea makes Morrison angry, and he wants to tell this man, this boy, that he’s wrong, that the soul is wet and dark, a creature that takes up residence in the human body like a parasite and feeds on it, a creature hungry for experience and power and possessed of an inhuman joy that cares nothing for its host, but lives, as it must live, in perpetual, disfigured longing.

In the end, Glister closes with a sacrifice, a revelation, and a transformation. Upon reflection, all of the clues are there, but I have to admit that after I first turned the last page I was at a loss. Just what had happened?  It took much mulling over, and several rereads of key passages before things began to become coherent for me, the pieces began to fit, and when they did, I, like Leonard, was amazed.

Glister is not an easy read even though it is a slim novel. It is easy to approach it as a typical mystery, but it is anything but. The ending has been described as too ambiguous by some, and it is not hard to understand the reasoning behind that declaration. That being said, if you are the type of reader who loves finely crafted sentences; rich, evocative scenery, and layers beneath layers, then you will appreciate this novel. Its beauty is like the beauty that Leonard sees in the chemical plant:

. . . always beautiful, even when it’s frightening, or when you can see how sad it is, when all of the little glimmers of what was here before—the woods, he firth, the beaches—show through and you realize it must have been amazing . . .

and then later:

“It’s beautiful, and it’s terrible too. It takes your breath away, but you don’t know if that comes from awe or terror.”

Read this book carefully, but do not analyze as you go. It is so much better to ponder the meanings after the last word of the last paragraph of the last page. The questions will come: some will be hard, and some will be obvious. And then, the easiest and hardest question of all: Why is it called Glister?

More later. Peace.