Passage of the Week


Lisa Graff’s A Tangle of Knots is an exquisite novel. I read it slowly, savoring each sentence like I would the bites of a slice of delicious cake.

Knots of all sorts pop up here and there throughout the story, but the book itself is a kind of knot, too, one that Graff deftly untangles a little bit more on each page. In this way – and because of the quirky, yet vivid, characters – the novel reminded me of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game. Fans of Raskin’s prose and elegant, intricate narratives will certainly enjoy A Tangle of Knots.

But rather than ramble on and risk spoiling any of the innumerable pleasures the novel has to offer, I’ll get on with the passage, leaving you with one small, but earnest, piece of advice: read this book.


. . .

From “A Tangle of Knots,” by Lisa Graff (pp. 51-52)


Something had happened on the highway, that’s what they were saying on the radio. A hiker had fainted or fallen or some such thing, which had caused several fender benders, backing up traffic for miles. Which was why Toby now found himself turning unfamiliar corners in the fog.

Toby had been making the same run to the airport every day for over a decade, purchasing the cast-off luggage that no one had come to claim so that the contents might be resold at the Emporium. And every one of those days, from dawn to dusk, had been more or less the same. Far from grand but not too horrible, either, like a pebble underneath your sock that’s not quite large enough to bother removing.

Today, it seemed, was different. Toby had never had such a huge haul from an airport run before. And there had even been one of those old powder blue suitcases, a St. Anthony’s, which ought to make the old man happy. (That would be a sight, Toby thought to himself.) Toby had settled the St. Anthony’s next to him in the passenger’s seat of his truck for safekeeping.

And that’s where it should have stayed, except that, while Toby was turning another corner into the gray fog, the suitcase tumbled to the floor of the truck. Toby reached over to tug it back onto the seat, his eyes drifting from the road for just one moment.

Which, as it happened, was just long enough.

Toby slammed on his brakes. Standing not ten inches from his front bumper was a pixie of a girl with crow-black hair. In her hand was a plate of cake, her fork frozen halfway to her face as she stared at Toby through the windshield. A young woman, tall and thin, rushed over and grabbed the girl by the shoulders. “Cady!” she cried. “Are you okay?”

Toby was parked in the middle of a damp green lawn. Another little girl, much younger than the first, sat in front of a deck of cards at a picnic table covered with a polka-dot cloth, a friendly looking couple beside her. In the distance, Toby could just make out the hazy outline of the sign on the lawn’s edge.



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