Late in the composing Brothers K’s multiple climaxes a mysterious Presence began to touch down from time to time as I worked. My gratitude for this Presence was great. Joy was in its very nature. The Presence also gave me an ability to portray some of my characters experiencing the same Presence. One such scene is on page 563, titled “Presence.” It portrays the scraggly pacifist army that sets out from Camas, Washington, to try to save Irwin Chance from a military insane asylum a thousand miles to the south, where he is under assault by mind-obliterating drugs and electroshock. Yet as this ragtag troupe of a dozen and a half, counting an infant in arms and a ful-term baby still in its mother, starts south in a caravan consisting of a rickety 32-foot RV, a sedan, and a pickup driven by Mama Chance’s alcoholic brother, Truman, who can repair all three vehicles—but only if he has access to a steady influx of beer—the fact that Mama, despite her terror of alcohol, supplies Truman his needed fuel, and countless other small exchanges between the caravan members gang up on Kincaid till he finds himself flooded by the Presence, by irrational hope, and by tears.
Similarly, fifty pages later Everett is writing to his true love, Natasha, from the work camp where he was serving his three-year jail sentence for draft dodging, which separates him from her, from the child she’s carrying, from Papa Chance, who has terminal cancer, and from Irwin, for whom Everett sacrificed his freedom to launch the caravan just described. And the erstwhile atheist, Everett, writing to Tasha, suddenly finds himself aiming his words not at her but at
“this other you. I refuse to resort to Uppercase here. But you hear me. And I feel you. I mean you, the who or whatever you are that somehow comes to us and somehow consoles us… I don’t know how to address you. I don’t like people who think they do. But it’s you alone, I begin to feel, who sends me this woman’s love, and our baby, and this new hope and gratitude even as my father goes down and my stupid brother lies broken. So:
O thing that consoles.
How clumsily I thank you.”