We all have that friend who starts to act dangerously irrational. We all have looked at them at wondered at what they are thinking as they act and do odd things. Cassandra Cronenberg has given us insight into one such mind as it starts to go through a mental breakdown in her novella Down The Street.
DOWN THE STREET, on the street, these lyrics can’t be beat. This is my head don’t destroy it. “I gotta place to be to be,” he said. “I gotta place to be,” he said, bouncing along the street as he often did and always did and always did before and forever. This is the way he walks; this is the way he walks. He/she, he/she, he/she, this is where it is, the never-ending flow, why does there have to be finality? Why doe there have to be a finality? Can it not keep going? Can it not keep going?
“THIS IS SHE.”
This is a girl’s life, the life of a girl, not the life of this hustler, this hustler who is on the street doing coke, living to the beat, coughing and cursing and hurting, this is not his life this is my life. This is my life now. “What do you want?” he said to me once and I crossed my hands in front of me and back out and jutted my chin to him and he said, “I’ll remember that for next time.” A fight, I wanted a fight
While this book is only 142 pages, it is a complex novella and shouldn’t be rushed through. Cronenberg goes from one thought to the next (known as streams of consciousness) of the protagonist as she deals with not only the collapse of her marriage and the raising of her children but deals with her desires and her impulses. The language is frank and bold yet not too complex.
That night in bed I had a fever and it was like my shoulder was dislocated. I started on antibiotics the next day. At first I thought I had completely fucked everything up by that last visit and I could never go in and would have to move and never go in again and that destroyed me, although someday to live in the Annex would be cool, not now though, my community was here and the thought of not dating him was fine because we were already together. I am abstaining from sex anyway, so . . . I do need his music though.
My friend who has been trying to bag the boys at Terroni jinxed me by saying, “Remember when you made me that mixed tape?” to one of them. Now she just works/lives there, every meeting, etc., but I now know we are special to each other and a mixed tape still signifies something special, as does dinner; if he made me dinner, I would just about die. His boss was right. “I bet you want that (blank fill in the words) now don’t you?” Yes, I want the tape and the dinner, yes, yes I do. How are we going to get there?
We seek cultural items out to give us quick answers and that is a mistake. We should be engaging culture to give us an insight – if not an understanding – of subjects around us. That is what Cronenberg has done with this novella, given us an insight into a mind of somebody we have pondered about – an ex-girlfriend, a sister, a friend, a daughter, whatever. We can’t have easy answers to our complex lives but we can have a bit of insight to the thoughts of others.
The Conversation with my ex was the first we had had that was good in a while, really good, about the girls, and I was, am, stoned. There you go, women in need or pot to get in touch with their emotions. Well, I needed that for sure.
Shit, I’m old. I’m too old. That woman at the counter, in the coffee shop, even if my coffee friend talked about me to her and the “hi” was because I was standing there and he didn’t think I would come in. He needs to be with someone young like himself. I am too old, I’m having a midlife crisis, perhaps; I mean the thought had crossed my mind. Going through all the boys and men in my life, and they are young.
“Night and day,” he said, as he followed my gaze out the window to a mother and daughter running together. Running with the girls and not.
Down The Street by Cassandra Cronenberg is a complex novella that gives insight to a confused mind to somebody we all know. A brilliant and bold read that is frank in it’s language. A great piece of literature.