[percy-l] slow read of The Second coming

Jim Forest jhforest at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 16:22:44 EDT 2016

Janet Cantor wrote: “And there is going to have to be more about Allison as
we continue the discussion.”

I’ve been attending to chapter II, the first chunk of the book about

Having read the instructions her pre-buzzed self had left for her after a
session of electroshock treatment, Allison has escaped from the madhouse
via a bread truck, arrived in Linwood, used some of the $400 she finds in
her wallet to purchase clothing and food, gotten a hair cut, made of a
bench on the main street a temporary observation post. Though stripped of
memory, she occasionally gets memory flashes. She has learned from the
barber the month, day and date but not the year — is it 1978? 79? 80?

Allison has experimented successfully with talking to a few people and has
discovered that, while she uses words to mean what they say, other people
seem to use words as signals in a code she has yet to break. (“Perhaps the
secret of talking was to have something to say.”)

She has also discovered that there seem to be two types of people, those
with plans and those without plans and finds herself partly in both

Reading pre-buzz Allison’s notes to her post-buzz self, she finds that she
has inherited money plus a house near Linwood and an island off the coast
of Georgia. It turns out the house has burned down but there is a
magnificent greenhouse that she can turn into a dwelling.

In fact the greenhouse is a kind of Eden.

Speaking of Eden, for me the most powerful thing about this chapter is the
overwhelming freshness and innocence of Allison. I wonder if others reading
the book see her, as I do, as a “second coming” of Eve?

The chapter ends on a very Eve-like note: “For the first time in her life,
she felt that it, her life, was beginning. But maybe that was because she
could not remember much about her old life.”

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