Monday, October 12, 2009

Finisterre – Louis D. Rubin Jr.

Louis D. Rubin Jr. b. 1923

I settled into this story and found myself flipping a few pages ahead in an attept to discover how much longer I would be reading this particular story. I found that there were quite a few more pages and this left me a bit disappointed because I felt the story to be dragging a bit. I was southern what should I expect.

I found after a few more minutes of reading that the story developed some legs and pulled me into it.

The pursuit of a desired object and the lengths and risks that come with obtaining that “thing”. The adventures of a young boy as he pushed his own limits to discover his being.

Tests that are necessary in life. Tests that too many are afraid to subject themselves to these days.

I too had a rowboat as a young boy. It was left to me by my father after he left the family. It was several years before I had the courage to take it out with a friend. We didn’t do too much in it. paddled around, fished, but nothing too daring.

These devices give a young boy freedom. My real rowboat was actually my bike. I rode it all over the neighborhood and as I grew older further distances were covered.

Flashing forward to my time after college, without a car and living under my father’s roof, I found that the bike(rowboat) gave some freedom that I required once more. It allowed me to escape the house. To ride through neighborhoods and stare in envy at the massive houses sitting on perfectly manicured lawns. It allowed me to digest what the last 4 years of my life had encompassed. I would wake in the mornings without direction. Drink something, watch TV and wonder where my life was going. After several months of this I decided to add a bit of 80 proof pain killer to my rides. That liquid made my rides a bit more interesting and allowed me to wallow in my misery several more months. The bike remained by my side as I finally gained employment and it ferried me to and from the restaurant. It traveled with me back to Virginia and put in countless miles between work and my apartment. On nights when I had a few too many, it shuttled me between destinations making sure that if anyone were to be killed by my drinking and driving (a bike) it would be me.

Now, my rowboat is a pair of running shoes and my two legs. I venture down paths and roads drunk on thoughts brought on by too much endorphin being splashed into my brain. I run the same risks as the boy in this story does by pushing the limits of my body as he pushed his boat close to the river.

I would like to think that it is a good thing to push that boat close to the river as often as possible. It makes us human and keeps us teetering on the edge of sanity which is a good thing.

A little bit about Rubin and the series editor of BASS.

In 1982 Rubin and Shannon Ravenel, a Hollins graduate, founded Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, one of the most successful commercial trade publishers outside of New York.

Ravenel had been a student of Rubin's at Hollins College, and she and Rubin had remained in touch over the years. Ravenel, series editor of Houghton Mifflin's annual "The Best American Short Stories" collection, eagerly agreed when Rubin asked her to join forces with him to form Algonquin.

Score 9 out of 10.

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