‘Landfall’

Hurricane-Force fiction: Ellen Urbani’s ‘Landfall’

In Urbani's post-Katrina novel everything becomes trauma

By ANGIE JABINE

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to tear my eyes off a page simply to catch my breath, but Ellen Urbani’s Landfall is that kind of a saga, a potent mixture of dread and elation, confusion and comprehension.

“She focused on forgetting one detail. Every time it came to her, she imagined it gone. Never-occurred. She pictured a mendacious sequence of events. She imagined Willie reaching for the roof, never securing a grip, his hands slipping off because of the damp, the mold, the slippery slick on his skin. If his survivors found her one day and asked, she would speak of those last moments when he slid peacefully below the waters, spent on the effort of saving himself, and the way he’d looked so accepting, almost smiling, as he vanished. Or maybe she’d say he died saving her mother. That’s it! He died saving her mother…”

Published by Portland’s Forest Avenue Press, Landfall makes its debut on August 29, the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and it’s rolling in on a tide of impressive advance notices. Fannie Flagg compares it to Isabel Allende’s “House of the Spirits and Pat Conroy says some of its passages are “Faulknerian in their powers.” Rightly so.

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