There were notes I took while reading Mel Bosworth’s FREIGHT, but now I can’t seem to find them. Lost. My notes. So now I turn on some New Orleans Jazz and write from what I remember by heart. It seems strangely fitting to write this way about a novel that seems to be about carrying memories, what the weight does to us, what it means to unload, if it is at all possible to unload memories, the weight of them. It isn’t.
I threw up
I put down
From the beginning to the end of FREIGHT, Mel Bosworth carried me. Although his prose got a little cute at times, I felt the throbbing of his heart every step of the way. I do not know who the nameless protagonist is in FREIGHT, but I do know that I felt like this wasn’t tiresome fiction, this wasn’t a plot that was mapped out and distanced from the writer, no, the writer kept this novel close to him, unconcerned with an arc, only concerned with what it means to be alive, and this is the kind of fiction I like best, not the plotted story lines that, no matter how subtle, always feel contrived, but the true shit.
Multiple times I got goosebumps. I did have favorites, like the scenes that happened in the nursing home. Old people are the answer. Their condition holds our condition, our being younger people, or even the youth, the adolescents, the children, the babies. Old people are where the line ends, if we get that far. To read their story at the terminus is always heartrending, always eye-opening. I want to be opened.
And then there were the troubled kids way out in the woods. Bosworth knows how to make sweat. Reading about his protagonist – nameless yet so close to home – pinning a kid down on the ground until help arrived, and then reading about the kid mouthing “I’m sorry” to this Everyman, now that made me sweat.
Then there were the scenes that happened in the gravel pit, digging into rock, I felt the jerk of the shovel as it hit something that just wouldn’t give. Sweat. And sometimes the sweat blossomed into blood, like the time Everyman was making a door and slammed a hammer into his thumb, or some finger, made it bleed, shouting pain, being human, mortal, but not making a mess out of it, not being sloppy. It’s not about being strong in the face of hurt, it’s not a testosterone thing inside Bosworth’s hero, who does in fact cry. It’s about laying down and letting the hurt attack you, it’s an acceptance thing. And then he goes on walking his line.
This was a good book. I liked reading this book. I was engaged throughout. I don’t want to try to find a little something-something I didn’t like about this book. There was nothing wrong with FREIGHT. It was like stepping into a swimming pool on a really hot summer day.
Bosworth’s Everyman would probably find it more refreshing to step into the Arizona desert, walking footfall for footfall next to the girl who also goes unnamed, the one and only who floats above names. They eat sushi together, but she didn’t have room to eat love. Love was something she tried before and didn’t like the taste of, so she eats sushi and leaves love for the birds.
Unrequited love seems to be a theme throughout FREIGHT. It’s a current that makes the water on the surface swirl into beautiful geometric sequences. This unrequited love isn’t ignored. In fact, it threatens, at times, to turn our nameless hero into a black hole, which is what happens when a person eats themselves.
When I read about black holes in this context, I realized that most people have gotten close to becoming black holes at some point in their lives. Maybe they are black holes right now, right right now. They let sadness consume themselves and everything they carry. They drink themselves into a stupor, wanting to die. Their implosion is a hard thing for everyone around them to bear because black holes swallow things that used to be perfectly in tune with the universe, balanced and harmonious. Black holes engulf even light.
I think FREIGHT is the opposite of a black hole. It gives everything and takes nothing. It shines brightly. Bosworth shoveled down into this nameless person, exposed all of his foibles and unearthed threads of energy that were then bound into a solid mass big enough to gradually draw other lost masses into orbit.
P.S. I really dig the cover design by Brian Manley (Fun With Robots)
My Rating =