Arcadia Falls


Arcadia is an art school, a former art colony, where Meg Rosenthal accepts a teaching post, following the death of her husband, leaving her and her daughter in financial difficulties. While there, she is given an opportunity to study letters and journals by the school’s founders, Vera Beacher and Lily Eberhardt, she is writing a doctorate about. Meg stumbles upon Lily’s journal which remained hidden since her death, somewhere in the late 1940s. Or so she thinks …

Soon after Meg arrives, a student is killed, falling form a forest’s edge into a gorge. A local sheriff treats her death as suspicious. It’s the same gorge Lily Eberhardt fell into all those years ago. Did she kill herself, was she pushed, was she really meeting a man she was supposed to escape with? The student’s death isn’t the only one. While reading Lily’s journal, Meg starts to see how the past affects the present. Shadows thrown by old sins are long and as always, secrets don’t stay buried forever.

A wooded roadway, bare brunches stretching into misty air, white witch, legends, folklore, pagan rites … damp smell of forest earth and trees, the sound of waterfall at night … and silence. I don't remember her mentioning silence, silence a city person doesn’t know. Silence and darkness, so absolute that echoes in my ears and threatens to convince me that time and space don't exist, that I could find myself at any point of time, anywhere.

I read a lot, really a lot, but it rarely happens that I can feel a book. More than I appreciate the story, I'm interested in how it is written. I like the way Carol Goodman writes, her fluent sensual prose that made me feel what she wrote about. I could smell the trees and damp earth coming from the silence and darkness through the open window in the evening. I could picture myself there, moving into an old cottage, no one has inhabited for a long time, a cottage at the edge of the forest. I kept thinking that I couldn't do it, it was not for me. Most probably I would spend my nights starring in the darkness, listening to the forest outside and the house how it breaths.

Cool it, you are not there, it's not you, it's her, a bus driver seems to say every time he hits the breaks and brings me out of … whatever I’ve managed to walk into.

The book deals with the position of women artists, teenagers searching for identity, sacrifice, change, revenge, art and passion. What hit me most was drawing, people sticking their noses in their sketchbooks and me wanting to do the same. I mostly paint in acrylics, with serious flirtation with watercolours and occasional fling with other techniques. Just a fling … I feel I should go back to drawing, the raw basics. I read a quote by David Hockney the other day, stressing the importance of drawing: “It’s always back to the drawing board. Always. Even on the computer, it’s back to the drawing board.”

*

V začetku 20. stoletja je bila Arcadia umetniška kolonija, kasneje pa sta Vera Beacher in Lily Eberhardt na istem mestu ustanovili umetniško šolo. Mnogo kasneje Meg Rosenthal tam dobi službo učiteljice, potem ko ji je umrl mož in jo s hčerko pustil v nezavidljivem finančnem položaju. Meg v Arcadii dobi priložnost prebirati pisma in dnevnike ustanoviteljic, o čemer piše doktorat. Skoraj po nesreči najde Lilyn dnevnik, za katerega nihče ni vedel. Menda …

Kmalu po Meginem prihodu, se ena od dijakinj ponesreči. Pade v isto sotesko, v kateri so v poznih štiridesetih letih 20. stoletja našli Lilyno truplo. Lokalni šerif obravnava dekletovo smrt kot sumljivo. Nesreča odpre številna vprašanja, ki obkrožajo Lilyno smrt: je bil res samomor ali jo je kdo porinil, je res bila na poti k moškemu, s katerim naj bi pobegnila? Dekletova smrt ni edina. Med branjem Lilynega dnevnika Meg spozna kako tesno prepleteni sta preteklost in sedanjost. Sence, ki jih mečejo stari grehi, so dolge, skrivnosti pa ne ostanejo skrite za vedno.

Gozdna cesta, gole veje, ki se stegujejo v meglo, bela čarovnica, legende, ljudska verovanja, poganski obredi … vlažen vonj gozdne zemlje in dreves, zvok vode v noči … in tišina. Ne spominjam se, da bi omenjala tišino, tisto, ki jo človek, ki je odraščal v mestu ne pozna. Tišina in tema, tako vseobsegajoča, da mi odzvanja v ušesih in grozi, da me bo prepričala, da prostor in čas ne obstajata, da se lahko znajdem kadar koli v času, kjer koli.

Veliko berem, vendar se mi redko zgodi, da začutim knjigo. Bolj kot zgodba, me zanima kako je knjiga napisana. Všeč mi je kako Carol Goodman piše, njena tekoča čutna proza. Čutila sem vonj dreves in vlažne zemlje, ki zvečer iz tišine in teme prihaja skozi odprto okno. Predstavljala sem si sebe, kako se vselim v staro hišo na robu gozda, v kateri še leta nihče ni živel. Misel me je navdala z nelagodjem, pomislila sem, da tega ne morem, to ni zame. Najverjetneje bi ponoči s široko odprtimi očmi strmela v temo in poslušala zvoke gozda in dihanje hiše.

Umiri se, ne gre zate, nisi tam, besede, ki jih nemo izreče voznik avtobusa vsakokrat, ko pohodi zavoro in se vrnem od tam, kamor sem zašla.

Knjiga obravnava položaj umetnic, iskanje najstniške identitete, žrtvovanje, spremembe, maščevanje, umetnost in strast. Najbolj pa je name naredilo vtis ravno risanje, ljudje, ki tičijo nos v skicirke in rišejo. Tudi sama sem si zaželela, da bi počela isto. Večinoma slikam z akrilnimi barvami, občasno se resno spogledujem z akvarelom, tu in tam me zapelje kakšna druga tehnika. Samo tu in tam. Čutim, da bi se morala vrniti k osnovam, k risanju, tega že predolgo nisem počela. Oni dan sem prebrala citat Davida Hockneya, da je risanje pomembno. Vedno se vrnemo k risanju, tudi če delamo z računalnikom, se vedno vrnemo k risanju.


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