The People Who Watched Her Pass By
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"Brave and unforgettable. Scott Bradfield creates a country for the reader to wander through, holding Sal's hand, assuming goodness." -Los Angeles Times
"Scott Bradfield is an otherworldy writer. There is an inarguable wholeness to [The People Who Watched Her Pass By], as in certain dreams." -Rain Taxi
"Drive[s] straight into the Zen void at the heart of the classic road." -Bookforum
"A wake-up call shouting Bradfield's humorously erudite take on modern American life." -WOSU
In his fifth novel, Scott Bradfield delivers an arresting and unsentimental childhood voice.
Salome Jensen is three years old when she is taken from her home by the man who fixes the hot water heater. As Sal drifts through Laundromats and people’s homes, she develops a perspective of the world and an understanding of its people more meaningful than the most erudite observer could muster.
Sal is never a victim or abused, she’s simply a child providing a humorous and fresh take on society.
The People Who Watched Her Pass By is often hilarious as well as startling, and it is a poignant new contribution to the body of literature of a respected prose craftsman.
ideas about how the world operates, and those three ideas can be summarized as negation, acceptance, and control. That’s why the child’s first word is usually no. As in, ‘No, I don’t want any apple juice.’ Or, ‘No, I don’t want to go to bed.’ Or, ‘No, I don’t want to be ritually humiliated by Satanists in a dark room with too many candles.’ For children, no is this super-powerful word that can be used to control a world that wants to control them. It’s the most beautiful notion of hegemony and
Daddy went around to the back of the van and unloaded two cardboard boxes filled with damp, mossy wood and kindling. Then he escorted Sal through an alley carpeted with soggy, windflung newspapers until they reached the back gate, which leaned cockeyed on a broken yellow hinge. Sal could walk through the crooked opening without touching the gate, or unlatching the door. She didn’t know if this was a good quality when it came to backyard gates, or a bad one. The weeds back here were taller than
under continual reassessment. She couldn’t tell if she was leaning forward or backward, and something hissed behind her ears, as if she were releasing steam. The colors of the sky resembled the muted pastels of a comic book, with pixilated air like sand, and clouds like empty dialog bubbles. At intervals, animals appeared and vanished again, poking up from the ground, or perching on trees and rocks, like targets in a shooting gallery. A military formation of high power lines appeared in the
Just like Sal. Nobody knew she was coming. She hadn’t sent ahead any cards or letters, or performed smoke signals with a campfire and a flapping burlap blanket. She simply reached the end of her isolation and said goodbye. It never felt like arriving. It always felt like going away. “If you need us, you know where to find us,” the coyote said. They had achieved the summit of a brown flinty hill. When Sal kicked a flat stone down the slope, it carried other rocks with it, and those rocks carried
like driving with Mrs Mayhew, only they weren’t going anywhere. Frank Morgan drove them around one block, 128 and then around another. Some of the yards were bracketed with hedgerows. They reminded Sal of a board game with green squares and yellow pieces. A faint drizzle accumulated everywhere, imbuing the air with a grainy texture. “I’ve been here before,” Sal said softly, even though she knew she hadn’t been – it just seemed like the polite thing to say. “In one of these houses, or one of