Instantly, here was race, implied violence, and the abject debunking of the two, all unspooled in a startlingly familiar dialect that was somehow hardly written in dialect. How absurd that this was the first scene of the novel. It was one of the most hilariously accurate depictions of the contemporary South I’d ever encountered, and from the pages of an airport crime novel written by an old white man from Detroit.
Agee has never worked, but knows he’ll enjoy it; he has gotten drunk, and he knows he’ll enjoy that too. There’s a sense of manifest destiny in his hypnotic syntax, a grammatical insistence on the fulfillment of desire: I like to . . . and will; I like to . . . and will; I like to . . . and will. He fantasizes about camaraderie and distraction; he wants to be delivered from his own interior life. He’s done too much hard time with too many sonnet writers in Harvard Yard. He wants out. The thing looks good in every way.
Up in Jacey’s bedroom, Scopes the cat had done nothing with the bird. He was hunched beside it on the pillow, settling in for an all-day gloat. Jacey scowled out her window. Her pulse drummed in her cheeks. She wished she had something valuable to smash.