(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

The disjunctiveness of this text written for and about “the century of dislocation” underscores Adler’s preoccupation with various kinds of relations, from the syntactic and narrative at one extreme to the social and personal at the other. Kate’s relationships are of paramount importance. These are her relationships to her former lover, to the other characters, to Adler (in both her roles: that of the novel’s author and that of the character who figures in the novel’s second part), to her tale and to her telling, and to the various ways in which women have been depicted in the literary tradition in which Kate is, by virtue of her education, well versed. In this regard, Kate is the other woman, the damsel in distress, the woman scorned (in her Medea mask), and “the Blue Angel . . . in reverse.” She is also the faithful Penelope of Homer’s Odyssey, weaving and unweaving her tapestry/narrative, keeping the suitors at bay while she awaits the return of her husband, Odysseus, whose wanderings are reflected in Kate’s narrative peregrinations. (It is significant that Kate retells, or reweaves, Penelope’s story from a feminist perspective in one of the many brief sections/episodes/narrative threads that make up “Orcas Island.”) Kate is equally, and perhaps most intriguingly, the wily Scheherazade of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, who uses her gift for storytelling to escape death, the fate of her powerful husband’s former wives. Scheherazade would certainly understand what Kate at one point states outright and what Pitch Dark everywhere implies: that her yearning for her lover is mixed with dread.I long for you to be here, miss you when you are gone, but sometimes to [sic] wonder whether I can amuse you, or whether you will not be bored, tired, called away for bridge, or work, or tennis, or because one of your daughters has had a whim, well, sometimes I dread what will follow such a visit, and so I’ve come to dread a bit the visit too.

Given the variety of her...

(The entire section is 830 words.)