snippets: the internalized dialogue of clumsy, weird, yet unavoidable anger

When I am reading, I am often on the lookout for flourishes, devices, or just ways of writing that work very well. Currently, I’m reading Swamplandia! By Karen Russell, and I was pretty excited to run across a short passage that does a fabulous job of manifesting the internalized dialogue of the clumsy, weird, yet unavoidable anger that many young man experience:

“by 4:30 AM Kiwi wasn’t drunk anymore, or hero – that whiskey shimmer had been reabsorbed by his skin. I hate you, he thought, and this thought floated serenely outside of him, because who could it attach to? He couldn’t even pretend to hate the Chief at this hour. He missed his family too badly. I hate who? Carl Jenks? What about Dr. Gautman? Emily Barton? Every tourist? The Chiefs loan officer? Failure! He couldn’t hate any of them, couldn’t find one person to use as a tether; the rage was like a balloon that drifted heavenward and broke free of its string. Kiwi, who considered himself a grammarian of human emotion, knew that anger required a direct object. (I am angry at___. I hate___.) To hate was a transitive verb. Anger needed an anchor, a plug, a wall. I am angry because of ____. Otherwise you had a beam of red feeling searching vainly through the universe. You had a heart that shot red light into space…”

What particularly impressed me about this passage, was that I totally recognized the feeling that Russell gave words to. Like many other men, I have gone through strange fits of unfocused anger.  This passage works particularly well because Kiwi- despite his anger- comes across as a sad figure. He has no focus for this anger. The writing itself is wonderful, and I really liked that metaphor of a heart being shot through with red light…

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About Armand Inezian

Armand Inezian is an English instructor by day, and a grant administrator by later-in-the-day, and a writer by night! VampCon- a dark, fantasy thriller- is his first novel. He resides in Boston with his wife, two children, three cats, and one house that needs a lot of work.
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