Friday, August 4, 2017

"White Fur"

Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program. White Fur is her second novel. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Libaire applied the Page 69 Test to White Fur and reported the following:
From page 69:
New Haven blooms; dogwoods open their petals of tea-streaked porcelain, and birds tune up like a symphony; rain falls on stone one day, simple white puffs fill an azure sky the next. Students are euphoric, high on thin sunshine. Tender skin is revealed to the air in golf shirts and knee- length skirts. Kids shiver at the sidewalk café, determined to drink their coffee outside, hunching over notebooks.
✷  ✷  ✷
Elise sometimes goes to the basketball court on Montague Street that’s annexed to the church. A program for troubled teens uses it when school lets out, but it’s deserted in the mornings. She squints into the frail light as she shoots. Her face is expressionless whether she misses or scores. One day, a nun offers her banana bread in a napkin and a can of cream soda. “Oh, wow,” Elise says. “That’s really nice of you.” “I see you playing here,” the nun says. “You’re a strong girl.” “Seriously, thanks,” Elise says, the ball between her pigeon- toed feet as she eats— she needed this kindness. The woman’s face is turtle-like in the short tuck of her nose and the bleary, innocent eyes. She wears gray orthopedic shoes, and when she waddles back to the church, her beads sway…
A few things happen on page 69 of White Fur. We hopefully feel and see the way spring gets going in New Haven, CT; it’s fickle, still cold, but dogwoods bloom in the way that only dogwoods can bloom. We also see Elise—that she’s pigeon-toed, that she doesn’t change her expression when shooting hoops and missing or scoring.

But the primary event here is the nun, who has been watching Elise on the days when Elise comes to play basketball at the church court by herself, and who chooses to bring Elise a slice of banana bread and a cream soda this afternoon. Maybe the nun can feel that Elise is lonely, struggling, and she decides to help her in this tiny, sweet, earnest way. The important aspect to this is how Elise lives in the world with an open soul, even though she seems hard at first. She connects to what’s around her, and this provides a channel for this woman (who doesn’t know her) to hand her sustenance. This is Elise’s core, this capacity to leave the gate unlocked, to take the risk of vulnerability. This is also what makes her so fundamentally different from Jamey, and it has a lot to do with what she might teach him, if he’ll let her.
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--Marshal Zeringue