review to come but for now:
i am in love with the story, "a visit". extended passage transcribed below, in spoiler tags -- i'm not ruining the story here, but by sharing the passage i give away what the story is about.
His little mocking rebuke irritated me, and I recalled how he had always irritated me, and made me retreat more deeply into myself, because of some little reproach, some little ironic look, and it seemed strange to me that someone who irritated me and made me retreat into myself was also someone who released me into a freer version of myself, a version superior to the constricted one that had always felt like my own hand on my throat. But who was Albert, after all, that he should have the power to release me or constrict me-- this man I no longer knew, with this run-down house and his ludicrous frog-wife. There I ate for a while in sudden silence, looking only at my food, and when I glanced up I saw him looking at me kindly, almost affectionately.
"It's all right," he said quietly, as if he understood, as if he knew how difficult it was for me this journey, this wife, this life. And I was grateful, as I had always been, for we had been close, he and I, back then.
After lunch he insisted on showing me his land-- his domain, as he called it. I had hoped that Alice might stay behind, so that I could speak with him alone, but it was clear that he wanted her to come with us. So as we made our way out the back door and into his domain she followed along, taking hops about two strides in length, always a little behind us or a little before. At the back of the house a patch of overgrown lawn lead to a vegetable garden on both sides of a grassy path. There were vines of green peas and string beans climbing tall sticks, clusters of green peppers, rows of carrots and radishes identified by seed packets on short sticks, fat heads of lettuce and flashes of yellow squash-- a rich and well-tended oasis, as if the living centre of the house were here, on the outside, hidden in the back. At the end of the garden grew a scattering of fruit trees , pear and cherry and plum. An old wire fence with a broken wooden gate separated the garden from the land beyond.
We walked along a vague footpath through fields of high grass, passed into thickets of oak and maple, crossed a stream. Alice kept up the pace. Alice in sunlight, Alice in the open air, no longer a grotesque pet, a monstrous mistake of Nature, a nightmare frog and freakish wife, but rather a companion of sorts, staying alongside us, resting when we rested--Albert's pal. And yet it was more than that. For when she emerged from the high grass or treeshade into full sunlight, I saw or sensed for a moment, with a kind of inner start, Alice as she was, Alice in the sheer brightness and fullness of her being, as if the dark malachite sheen of her skin, the pale shimmer of her throat, the moist warmth of her eyes, were as natural and mysterious as the flight of a bird. Then I would tumble back into myself and realize I was walking with my old friend beside a monstrous lumbering frog who had somehow become his wife, and howl of inward laughter and rage would erupt in me, calmed almost at once by the rolling meadows, the shady thickets, the black crow rising from a tree with slowly lifted and lowered wings, rising higher and higher into the pale blue sky touched here and there with delicate fernlike clouds.
The pond appeared suddenly, on the far side of a low rise. Reeds and cattails grew in thick clusters at the marshy edge. We sat down on flat-topped boulders and looked out at the green-brown water, where a few brown ducks floated, out pst fields to a line of low hills. There was a desolate beauty about the place, as if we had come to the edge of the world. "It was over there I first saw her," Albert said, pointing to a cluster of reeds. Alice sat off to one side, low to the ground, in a clump of grass at the water's edge. She was still as a rock, except for her sides moving in and out as she breathed. I imagined her growing in the depths of the pond, under a mantle of lilypads and mottled scum, down below the rays of green sunlight, far down, at the silent bottom of the world.