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"Out, out, brief candle."

More from Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. Snowman has just climbed down from his nighttime refuge (a tree) to fetch some whiskey he previously scavenged from an abandoned house.

...he locates his cement hidey-hole by stubbing his toe on it. He refrains from swearing: no way of telling what else might be prowling around in the night. He slides open the cache, fumbles blindly within it, retrieves the third of Scotch.

He's been saving it up, resisting the urge to binge, keeping it as a sort of charm - as long as he's known it was still there it's been easier to get through time. This might be the last of it. He's certain he has explored every likely site within a day's out-and-back radius of his tree. But he's feeling reckless. Why hoard the stuff? Why wait? What's his life worth anyway, and who cares? Out, out, brief candle. He's served his evolutionary purpose, as Crake knew he would. He's saved the children.

"Fucking Crake!" he can't help yelling.

That "easier to get through time" is just devastating, so quietly devastating. The idea that Snowman feels he has nothing left to live for, and the only thing that has kept him from ending it all is the mere thought that some numbing Scotch still remains.

December 13, 2013 in Books | Permalink

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