Justin Cartwright, “To Heaven by Water” (2009)

justin-cartwright-to-heaven-by-water-2009“In the two-page prologue to Justin Cartwright’s new novel, To Heaven by Water, two brothers, ‘no longer young,’ are sitting by a campfire in the Kalahari Desert. The elder is smoking dope and reciting Gerard Manley Hopkins’s tongue-twisting, syntax-bending sonnet ‘The Windhover’: ‘I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon. . . .’ (This can’t be very good weed he’s smoking, since he makes it through all 14 lines without losing his way.) In response, the younger ‘feels a rushing, unstoppable love’ for him, which he expresses by mouthing the conclusion of the Divine Comedy: L’amor che muove il sole e l’altre stelle. (Cartwright goes on to translate for us, though such a familiar line needs Englishing far less than Hopkins does.) The scene ends with Cartwright’s own image of the stars, ‘implausibly bright, scattered carelessly like lustrous seed across the southern sky.'” [. . .]    –David Gates, The New York Times, August 13, 2009