A mirage in a blizzard

‘The suburb always has an abstracted quality, like a sentence learned by heart and repeated till the words are finally magical … The suburb has its own patterns: arrangements of bottles on front steps and scraped ice on driveways, enactments of chores and duties, conversations at gates and hedges, sweeping and binding movements, arcane calculations of cost and distance. All this activity is intended to make it appear real – a commonplace – but its people cannot evade the thought, like the thought which sometimes comes in dreams, that nothing is solid at all, and the suburb is no more substantial than a mirage in a blizzard, or the shimmering waves off an exit road where spilled petrol evaporates in the sun.’ – John Burnside, ‘Suburbs’

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