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September 6, 2012 Edition
Leftover tensions from the Civil War are still deeply felt in Boston as MIT’s first class prepares for graduation and mysterious, inexplicable events shatter the delicate poise of the city. Window glass melts and runs out of its frame, only to resolidify moments later. Ships collide in the foggy bay as their compasses abruptly stop working. No one from much-esteemed Harvard or the police has come up with an explanation, but the boys from MIT have some ideas. Forming a group they call the Technologists, several students pool their ideas and begin an investigation of their own. Slow to start as it establishes backgrounds for its main characters, this snowballs its way to a crashing finish.
Deep in the California desert is a stand of rocks known as The Pinnacles. And in their shadow is a small town to which Jaz and his wife Lisa have taken their autistic son Raj on vacation. Where Nicky, a washed-up rock star is attempting to forget his past. Where lights fill the sky, glowing and pulsing. Where Coyote once roamed. Time twists and bends and myth and real life become one as layers of story proclaim the existence of mystery in the world, starting with Coyote dying in a desert explosion, ending with the transformation of a little boy. This odd and somewhat uneven story is dreamlike and intense – a specialized taste.
Piet Barol is the chameleon-like son of a taciturn clerk at Leiden University and the seventeenth tutor for the Vermeulen-Sickerts’ odd ten-year old son. He fits the family’s needs in all particulars: his appearance and manners are impeccable, his conversation is cultivated, and his perfectly proper behavior has a flirtatious edge of what each family member needs most. (One of the daughters thinks he’s fishy, but everyone else is enchanted by him.) And Piet is harmless, just a handsome, poor man with an eye for the finer things in life and a vision of how to get them. He has an innate ability to read people and knows how to bend them to his own needs, but his sense of decency demands that he not take advantage of anyone. As a man who looks for pleasure in all things, he knows how important it is to give as well as receive. And, unbeknownst and unintended to him, it is a quality that has the power to transform those around him as well as himself. A word of caution: this ends with “to be continued,” a frustrating phrase for such a compelling story.
In her thirties, Ivorie is considered an old maid in her small farming community. When her mother passes away, Ivorie feels that she’s lost her best friend, and despite her six brothers and their families full of nieces and nephews nearby, she has begun to feel the lack of a husband and children of her own. Her dog, Sally, corners a small, near-feral boy who has been raiding Ivorie’s carefully tended garden, and Ivorie is deeply alarmed. Why is this dirty, skinny boy scavenging her cucumbers? Who beat him to the point of bloody welts on his back? When it becomes clear that he’s from deep in the hills and is being terribly abused, Ivorie takes him in. No one knows who his parents are, and he’s not talking to anyone, but as he settles in and learns to live like a human, answers to unspoken mysteries become clear.