Jeff VanderMeer's Shriek: An Afterword: part three of several

Chapter 6…i should have warned you that i’m a slow reader. and here i am pausing yet again after just one chapter. will i ever finish reading this book? i’m sure I shall, eventually, because this is a book i will not allow to be waylaid; even if i had only thought to dip a toe in the first few pages, even if i had not intended to dive into its oddly hued waters, i could not have helped but be swept up and away by these words. however, it is also true that i am reluctant to see this book end, to have to turn the final page and set the book aside at last; and then, also, there are times when i can’t help but stop, when the desire to let a few pages, a few paragraphs, a few words sit on my mind’s tongue like a mouthful of wine overpowers the desire to rush headlong into the next few pages, paragraphs, words. when i have to stop and think, rethink, and think again on what the pages, paragraphs, words have to say.

Chapter 6, and i find i have to make just such a stop.

Chapter 6 is a visit to the cemetery, to old friends’ graves, made all the more poignant by its moments of humor and passion both; the entire book thus far has been such a visit to the past, but here, at last, we make a visit with Janice Shriek grounded firmly, for us, in her present. here we have our first image of Janice and Ambergris as they were when she wrote her part of this book…and with that image, for me, came a realization.

all this time, i’d thought Janice and her brother Duncan had been tiptoeing about the ‘core’ of this book. perhaps. but having seen Janice in her state as she broke from the afterword she had been writing to take a walk through Ambergris, revisit her ‘site of triumphs’ and those graves in her mind, i wonder if that is, in fact, the case.

instead, i think now of Janice not tiptoeing about the ‘core’ of this book (and might it not be, after all, too late to be tiptoeing?), but limping through her past, a past that has changed herself and Duncan and their friends and their enemies and Ambergris, changed their entire world so much that even if it weren’t for her age, even if it weren't for the pain in her leg, could she possibly not have limped?

it is a viciously poignant revelation, such that when she proclaimed ‘I am Janice Shriek’ at the end of the first part of this chapter, a mental shiver traveled down my spine, and decided to setup camp at its base long enough, at least, for me to set these words down...

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