So it ended up taking about twenty-three pages to find out that Jay is dead, but there is a building up of emotion–if not tension–Agee does well. It still seems to be slow, but then again, that may just be because I’m reading this in small quick doses spaced farther apart than my normal reading style. (Good reason/excuse: I’ve been writing a lot.) There is a pacing of language and information that seems to match the agony of waiting to hear about a loved one in an accident. There is a politeness and caution in the conversations, as if afraid to be optimistic, yet reluctant to accept the worst before it is confirmed.
There’s also some clear and concise simile that hits home once Mary’s brother Andrew returns with the bad news:
While he broke ice and brought glasses and a pitcher of water, none of them spoke; Mary sat in a distorted kind of helplessness at once meek and curiously sullen, waiting. Months later, seeing a horse which had fallen in the street, Andrew was to remember her; and he was to remember it wasn’t drunkenness, either. It was just the flat of the hand of Death. (p. 115)
"It was just the flat of the hand of Death." Yeah.