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Into the Interior

Into the Interior

Michelle Cliff
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Into the Interior
    Book Description:

    In her previous novels, Michelle Cliff explored potent themes of colonialism, race, myth, and identity with rare intelligence, lyrical intensity, and a profound sense of both history and place. Into the Interior is her most intimate, courageous work of fiction yet, a searing and ultimately moving reflection on the legacy of empire and the restless search for a feeling of belonging.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7376-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[x])
  3. I

    • { 1 } Points of Departure
      (pp. 3-11)

      I was born in the middle of the twentieth century and was raised in the age of Victoria, at least partly, for my family, older than the hills, older than the hills, older than the D’Urbervilles, cleaved to the past they had received, and the landscape, real and imagined, ordered and ruinate, kept it so. Traces of heresies overcome with green. Blindness is relatively common in the tropics. As is amputation.

      Not a reliable narrator in the crew.

      Great-houses with galvanized roofs and wraparound verandahs, fading from the assault of the sea, salt relentless, ghosts dressed as sea captains dancing...

    • { 2 } Lying-In
      (pp. 12-14)

      The last thing in the world my mother wanted was a child. Worse: this was a daughter. Her husband, my father as it happened, made it clear. “If it’s not a boy, don’t bother bringing it home. Don’t even think about it, you hear?”

      This would pass of course. And his remarks would pass as a family joke. But the point had been made. Say no more.

      The lying-in hospital was pink stucco with aquamarine trim and a terracotta-tiled roof. The grounds displayed the usual foliage: bougainvillea, hibiscus, poinciana trees, their long brown pods rattling in the breezes sent from...

    • { 3 } Among the Christian Diabolists
      (pp. 15-20)

      I grew up to be someone adept at leaving.

      My great-grandmother left me an evening bag made of chain mail and lined in black velvet, bald in places from age. Trapped in the folds of black was a golden guinea as bright as if minted yesterday.

      Whatever became of the bag I cannot recall. I wear the coin on a chain around my neck.

      My mother died the year I was twelve, subject of a raging infection following a Haitian abortion. I of course was not told this, but years later I managed to piece the story together.

      My father...

    • { 4 } Below the Waterline
      (pp. 21-28)

      On the crossing something quite surprising happened.

      I explored the interior of a lifeboat with a fellow passenger night after night. Our cabin was cramped and shared with two others.

      The lifeboat rocked us, we it, while underneath others strolled, watching out for stars, watching for ice oes in early September, which I knew as hurricane season.

      I’d been lying on a bunk in a four-person cabin below the waterline. Janet Flanner’sParis Was Yesterdaywas propped on my chest,The Female Eunuchwas on the oor. I was wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans with a button y....

    • { 5 } Marooned
      (pp. 29-58)

      I hid away in an institute of advanced learning whose specialty is the visual arts, awash in nudes and ambiguity.

      “We study the dreams of the past,” the director tells me. I have walked in off the street and gained an audience.

      Everything is red and gold and lapis. So comforting, all this color, evidence of grandeur. So much easier on the eyes than a black-and-white photograph of Patrice Lumumba rotting in a fetal position in the trunk of a black sedan.

      I am introduced around to my new colleagues.

      The most brilliant student at the institute is Jennifer. Her...

  4. II

    • { 6 } Night Nursery
      (pp. 61-71)

      Richard had been considered by those in charge of literature the most promising poet of his generation. All that had been a very long time ago.

      A thin-skinned, blue-veined beauty when a boy (framed pictures were set on the surfaces around his cottage; as time passed and visitors said they’d not realized Richard had son—Stranger things, etc.—the pictures were put away), he’d been the favorite of master and prefect at his public school. Even the master who beat boys silly while they gripped an edition of Rimbaud (translated by the master, privately printed), even he fell for Richard,...

    • { 7 } Rex and Queenie
      (pp. 72-82)

      Rex and Queenie thought their names better suited to a couple of dogs. And they were right.

      But being who they were, they kept them. And named their dogs Frank and Beryl.

      In the cinema they might have been played by Celia Johnson and Ralph Richardson.

      The two were naturists (i.e., nudists), and Queenie was a druid. Each solstice and equinox found her in a blue robe dancing on a hill in Dulwich, once making the front page of theDaily Telegraph.In the privacy of their at on Clapham Common they went completely naked, even with company.

      Rex was...

    • { 8 } The Joy of Cooking
      (pp. 83-100)

      Serious chefs should know how to deal with organs.

      I had thought Elizabeth the most serious of chefs until I had dinner in her home, and when she drew back the cover of a silver serving dish that had been in her family since the Glorious Revolution, the most amazing yet familiar stench ascended, and her husband, Buddy, a Kentuckian exile, drawled, “Smells like the Piccadilly Gents’ to me, hon.”

      Elizabeth ushed to her red roots and snapped, “And just how much timedoyou spend down there?”

      Thedown therewas pointed; the diaries of Joe Orton had been...

  5. III

    • { 9 } Runagate
      (pp. 103-115)

      You’ll have to take my word that some of these things happened.

      Back at the institute a woman in her midtwenties came in cold off the street and was met by the administrator, a woman in her midflfties, with a slightly accented voice—she’d been born in the south of France. She’d come to London in 1944.

      Above the two women, on the lintel over the marble entry way, was the wordMnemosyne,Memory, mother of the Muses.

      She replied that her name was Catherine Lyle.

      “Spelled like the manufacturer of Golden Syrup?”

      “Yes,” she responded, although she’d never heard...

    • { 10 } Confluence
      (pp. 116-122)

      I have kept Catherine’s notes to this day, showing them to no one, not turning them over to the police when they came to the institute with their inquiries. Almost everyone said they had not know Catherine at all, some said that she kept to herself, was secretive, et cetera. I was pointed out as someone of Catherine’s acquaintance, which I had been, albeit briefly.

      “Are you saying that you didn’t realize she was a fugitive?”


      “Did you not know she is wanted for an act of murder?”

      “I did not know.”

      “Did she tell you where she came...

    • Back Matter
      (pp. 123-123)