When a single mother enrolls in a college class, the professor finds himself mesmerized by her and, before long, drawn into her life.
Stephen Mollgaard is a divorced writing instructor prone to seizures that he describes as a “volcano” in his brain. He sees his life as divided between two worlds. World One is “solid, neat, orderly;” World Two is “elusive, chaotic, amorphous.”
When Silkie arrives for Mollgaard’s writing class, he knows instantly that she also has “volcano” in her brain and is of World Two. Silkie is the homeless mother of five-year-old Maheza, and suffers from “schizoaffective something or other.” She’s an avid reader, earns As on her papers and collects photographs of images that catch her attention. Mollgaard is fascinated by Silkie, describing her as not “mad, but rather that she was in life what madness is in art.” Then one day, Mollgaard receives a message that Silkie is dead. His quest to learn of her fate leads him into unexpected territory and serves to heighten his obsession with Silkie.
This is a complex, detailed tale with mystical themes of psychic connections. Mollgaard is a relatable character: lonely, but good-hearted. He gives away money to the homeless and sponsors a needy child from overseas. Silkie is an independent, imaginative young woman, but also unreliable and often unappreciative, qualities that can make Mollgaard’s strong emotions toward her puzzling.
While the story is generally well written, the author has a tendency to omit pronouns and articles, such as “a” and “the,” which calls attention to itself, interrupting the story. There are also a few questionable descriptions. For example, Mollgaard’s father is described as a “big man, some two hundred and twenty pounds,” but later as having never lost his “lankiness.” In another passage, Silkie is awkwardly described as erupting “Like a dagger.”
Such issues aside, this is an original, descriptive tale. It should especially appeal readers with an interest in the mystical.
Also available in paperback.