A Marker to Measure Drift
On an island somewhere in the Aegean, Jacqueline, a young Liberian woman, veers between starvation and satiety, between the brutality of her past and the precarious uncertainty of her present in the aftermath of experiences so unspeakable that she prefers homeless numbness to the psychological confrontation she knows is inevitable. Hypnotic, highly sensual, exquisitely written, and extraordinary in its depiction of both pleasure and pain, of excruciating physical and spiritual hungers, A Marker to Measure Drift is a novel about memory, how we live with what we know, and whether and how we go forward, intact and whole, after the ravages of loss. It is beautiful, lacerating, impossible to put down. A breakthrough work from a prodigiously gifted young writer.
1. Why might the author have chosen to use these quotations by Eudora Welty and Robert Graves as epigraphs? What relationship do they have to the major themes of the novel?
2. Consider the first sentence of the novel: “Now it was night.” What impact does this line have? Is it an effective first line?...
"The writing is extraordinary. And when I say extraordinary, I don't mean it's pretty or gorgeous for gorgeousness' sake. Maksik, he's really getting down deep into . . . the nature of human experience and the nature of love and the nature of loss. And line by line, the power accumulates in this book kind of like a stealth tsunami. And by the end of it, you feel like you've really been through something."
"Bold . . . Undaunted . . . Maksik has illuminated for us, with force and art, an all too common species of suffering--grievous, ugly, and, unfortunately, a perennial."
--The New York Times
"Palpable and affecting . . . Maksik has infused his tale of suffering with the loveliness of his prose . . . The desperate rhythms of thought intended to hold deeper desperation at bay are on display throughout this beautiful book that plumbs the depths of misery both mental and physical."