“Was there some Verbaluce™ in that drip or what?”

The following passage gave me that “tingle down the spine” we keep talking about:

“…killers all, all bad, I guess, although, in that instant, I saw it differently. At birth, they’d been charged by God with the responsibility of growing up into total fuckups. Had they chosen this? Was it their fault, as they tumbled out of the womb? Had they aspired, covered in placental blood, to grow into harmers, dark forcers, life enders? In that first holy instant of breath/awareness (tiny hands clutching and unclutching), had it been their fondest hope to render (via gun, knife, or brick) some innocent family bereft? No; and yet their crooked destinies had lain dormant within them, seeds awaiting water and light to bring forth the most violent, life-poisoning flowers, said water/light actually being the requisite combination of neurological tendency and environmental activation that would transform then (transform us!) into earth’s offal, murderers, and foul us with the ultimate, unwashable transgression.

Wow, I thought, was there some Verbaluce in that drip or what?

But no.”

To me, Jeff is realizing the cruelty of the world he lives in during this out-of-body experience. It’s very dark because he basically says there is no hope. He claims that people’s destinies are already decided (as a combination of nature and nurture) and inevitable. This is certainly a disturbing message from the text.

The writing is also carefully written with pacing in mind. As Jeff continues, he stumbles into this very long sentence that made me read with more speed and more excitement. He makes a joke about using Verbaluce to produce such insightful language. Then, he follows with “But no” (a two word paragraph). This completely stopped me in my tracks, and I instantly reread the whole thing again. There is so much meaning here, and it is delivered flawlessly.

2 thoughts on ““Was there some Verbaluce™ in that drip or what?”

  1. Sam S

    Saunders is not the first author to write about determinism, but I agree with you that he does so in a unique and insightful way. Do you think that, granted this sort of perspective, the criminals in that society are responsible for their actions? If it is true that our actions are a product of the world we inhabit, are any criminals responsible for their actions?


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