A Novel Excerptby T. Coraghessan Boyle
She wasn’t studying. Studying was what she was supposed to be doing, what she intended to do, what she was going to start doing any minute now. First, though, she had to wait for the album to finish—the new Talking Heads, with its bass-heavy rendition of “Take Me to the River,” which she couldn’t get enough of—and click through all the channels on the TV while absorbing her daily dose of disodium guanylate, autolyzed yeast extract, and rendered chicken fat in her Top Ramen, which was about the only thing she was eating lately. It was cheap and fast and that was all that mattered. Not that she was happy about it—she knew she had to start eating better, but she hadn’t actually cooked anything even remotely healthy for weeks, and then it was only pasta with a red sauce out of a jar and a wedge of iceberg lettuce on the side and maybe a pickle or two. Were pickles healthy? They prevented scurvy, she’d read that somewhere. Columbus had stocked them on the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria for that purpose, although she wasn’t on a ship at sea but in her efficiency apartment in university housing, and the problem was time. And will. Work, school, work, school—it was as if she were on a stationary bicycle pedaling furiously, going nowhere.