《我的名字是露西·巴顿》:何所来,何所向

2017-08-04 23:15:22

美国当代小说家伊丽莎白·斯特劳特(Elizabeth Strout) 1956年出生于缅因州波特兰市,父亲是大学教授,母亲是中学老师。她大学就读于缅因的贝茨学院,后进入雪城大学法学院学习,毕业后在纽约生活,开始从事文学创作。她的小说以对人物心理的细腻描写见长。1998年出版长篇处女作《艾米与伊莎贝尔》(Amy and Isabelle),获《洛杉矶时报》最佳首作奖。2006年出版《与我同在》(Abide with Me),入选美国独立书商协会选书。2009年则凭借《奥丽芙·基特里奇》(Olive Kitteridge,又译为《微不足道的生活》),获得普利策奖,该小说于2014年被HBO改编为电视剧。她近期的作品有《伯吉斯家的男孩们》(The Burgess Boys, 2013)、《我的名字是露西·巴顿》(My Name Is Lucy Barton, 2016)以及《一切皆有可能》(Anything Is Possible, 2017)。

◎ 赏析 / 陈榕

伊丽莎白·斯特劳特

Excerpts1)

To begin with, it was a simple story: I had gone into the hospital to have my appendix2) out. After two days they gave me food, but I couldn’t keep it down. And then a fever arrived. No one could isolate any bacteria3) or figure out what had gone wrong. No one ever did. I took fluids through one IV4), and antibiotics5) came through another. They were attached to a metal pole on wobbly wheels that I pushed around with me, but I got tired easily. Toward the beginning of July, whatever problem had taken hold of me went away. But until then I was in a very strange state—a literally feverish waiting—and I really agonized. I had a husband and two small daughters at home; I missed my girls terribly, and I worried about them so much I was afraid it was making me sicker. When my doctor, to whom I felt a deep attachment—he was a jowly-faced Jewish man who wore such a gentle sadness on his shoulders, whose grandparents and three aunts, I heard him tell a nurse, had been killed in the camps, and who had a wife and four grown children here in New York City—this lovely man, I think, felt sorry for me, and saw to it that my girls—they were five and six—could visit me if they had no illnesses. They were brought into my room by a family friend, and I saw how their little faces were dirty, and so was their hair, and I pushed my IV apparatus6) into the shower with them, but they cried out, “Mommy, you’re so skinny!” They were really frightened. They sat with me on the bed while I dried their hair with a towel, and then they drew pictures, but with apprehension, meaning that they did not interrupt themselves every minute by saying, “Mommy, Mommy, do you like this? Mommy, look at the dress of my fairy princess!” They said very little, the younger one especially seemed unable to speak, and when I put my arms around her, I saw her lower lip thrust out and her chin tremble; she was a tiny thing, trying so hard to be brave. When they left I did not look out the window to watch them walk away with my friend who had brought them, and who had no children of her own.

My husband, naturally, was busy running the household and also busy with his job, and he didn’t often have a chance to visit me. He had told me when we met that he hated hospitals—his father had died in one when he was fourteen—and I saw now that he meant this. In the first room I had been assigned was an old woman dying next to me; she kept calling out for help—it was striking to me how uncaring the nurses were, as she cried that she was dying. My husband could not stand it—he could not stand visiting me there, is what I mean—and he had me moved to a single room. Our health insurance didn’t cover this luxury, and every day was a drain on our savings. I was grateful not to hear that poor woman crying out, but had anyone known the extent of my loneliness I would have been embarrassed. Whenever a nurse came to take my temperature, I tried to get her to stay for a few minutes, but the nurses were busy, they could not just hang around talking.

About three weeks after I was admitted, I turned my eyes from the window late one afternoon and found my mother sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed. “Mom?” I said.

“Hi, Lucy,” she said. Her voice sounded shy but urgent. She leaned forward and squeezed my foot through the sheet. “Hi, Wizzle,” she said. I had not seen my mother for years, and I kept staring at her; I could not figure out why she looked so different.

“Mom, how did you get here?” I asked.

“Oh, I got on an airplane.” She wiggled her fingers and I knew that there was too much emotion for us. So I waved back, and lay flat. “I think you’ll be all right,” she added, in the same shy-sounding but urgent voice. “I haven’t had any dreams.”

Her being there, using my pet name, which I had not heard in ages, made me feel warm and liquid-filled, as though all my tension had been a solid thing and now was not. Usually I woke at midnight and dozed fitfully, or stared wide-awake through the window at the lights of the city. But that night I slept without waking, and in the morning my mother was sitting where she had been the day before. “Doesn’t matter,” she said when I asked. “You know I don’t sleep lots.”

1. 节选部分主要讲的是主人公露西·巴顿(Lucy Barton)因阑尾炎住院,对孩子十分思念,丈夫因不能陪床请来了她许久不见的妈妈来医院做看护,这让她感到很欣慰。

2. appendix [əˈpendɪks] n. [解剖学]阑尾

3. bacteria [bækˈtɪəriə] n. [复] 细菌

4. IV:静脉点滴

5. antibiotic [æntibaɪˈɒtɪk] n. 抗生素,抗菌素

6. apparatus [ˌæpəˈreɪtəs] n. 仪器,设备

作品赏析

《我的名字是露西·巴顿》是一部以女主人公露西·巴顿为第一人称叙述者的传记体小说。如果我们根据她的叙述回溯她的成长,可以看到她有十分苦楚的童年。她的父亲曾经在参战时失手杀过人,自此被内疚折磨,形成了扭曲的性格,对家人十分苛刻,有暴力倾向。他的妻子为了维系家庭辛苦劳作,既要面对坏脾气的丈夫,又要抚养三个孩子,被生活磨去了温柔,变得易怒、不苟言笑。露西的童年不仅缺少父母的温情关爱,而且缺乏物质保障。她们家没有稳定的经济收入,一家五口人住在亲戚家的车库里,在伊利诺伊寒冷的冬天里,只能靠热水袋取暖,没有钱付暖气费。在二战后美国国力上升的繁荣时代,这一家人挣扎在社会底层,家里没有电视机,孩子们的衣服鞋帽来自于救济。露西上学后因此受到了同学的排斥,她不懂流行文化,和同学们没有共同话题,而且穿得十分寒酸,是如同丑小鸭一样的存在。

像一只丑小鸭一样的露西,渴望长出天鹅双翼,展翅飞翔,离开这个家,离开小镇。她拼命读书,刻苦学习,凭借优秀的成绩上了大学,毕业后嫁给了来自中产阶级的丈夫,生了两个孩子,后来成为一名小说家。她彻底摆脱了伊利诺伊小镇寂寞寒冷的冬天,生活在纽约这个繁华都会,成为这个光鲜城市中的一员,摆脱了原生家庭的窘迫境遇。

对照露西从童年到成年的人生轨迹,我们会发现这个故事拥有变成励志类小说的潜质:就像《安吉拉的灰烬》《哈佛风雨路》等小说的主人公一样,露西凭借坚韧意志和勤奋学习改变了命运。然而,作者斯特劳特没有将主人公的阶级跃升视为获得了成功和幸福,整部小说中,我们找不到一句鸡汤类的励志金句。相反,主人公的纽约生活与伊利诺伊的童年形成了对位关系,纽约的生活不是离开伊利诺伊冰冷童年之后的“幸福永远”,小说关注的是我们与过去千丝万缕的联系,是历史在我们的生命中的烙印,以及我们如何带着这样的烙印生活下去。

因此,小说一开篇,我们所看到的是处于人生中段的露西·巴顿。当时是20世纪80年代,她30多岁,是两个孩子的母亲,还没有离婚。她因阑尾炎住了院,阑尾炎却转为某种病理机制不明的疾病,让她在医院里住了九个星期。她的丈夫不愿到医院陪护,打电话叫来了远在伊利诺伊的丈母娘。正是在露西最脆弱无助的时候,她的妈妈坐在了她的床边。

母女在露西成年后第一次这么近距离地相守,有难得的温情时刻。露西的丈夫曾经勉强抽了半天时间来陪露西,却十分不称职地躺在她的病床上呼呼大睡。作为对比,她的母亲有严重的失眠症,却不肯去住旅馆,一天24小时衣不解带地守着她。她半夜被医生带走接受身体检查,因医疗设备故障耽误了时间,等她出了诊室的门,发现母亲深夜在偌大的医院里靠问询找到了她的诊室,正坐在门外默默等待。

在陪护时,母女谈起过去,终于能够温和地交流。然而,母女两人无论谈及什么话题,都有着字斟句酌的谨慎,这不仅是因为她们多年没有生活在一起,生怕讲话鲁莽伤害了对方,更是因为昔日的伤痕太多,时时需要回避,而未来的生活也没有太多精彩可以期待:母亲还是困在伊利诺伊的家中,露西的纽约人生也有很多烦恼。而且,即便是这样难得的温情时刻也很快就结束了:医生告知露西她出现了肠梗阻症状,需要立刻手术。就在她被匆忙推上手术台时,她的母亲却提出要回家,不顾女儿的恳求,匆匆启程返乡,事后拒绝再谈及这个话题。

母亲到底爱不爱露西?如果爱,为什么要在手术时离去?如果不爱,为什么要赶来陪伴?从字里行间我们可以看得到,答案显然是爱。陪伴是出于爱,离开也是因为爱,从母亲伤人的自私的决然离开的背影中,我们能够读出母亲的恐惧:她在惶恐女儿的手术结果,为了躲避焦虑,她选择逃走。这是一位从不善表达也拒绝表达的母亲。在她临终时,当露西回乡要求陪护她,她用带着泪的眼睛望着露西,请她离开,她在无言恳求女儿为自己保留死亡的孤独与尊严,以及免除女儿与她之间在人生最后一程过于深入且更加痛苦的牵绊。为此,露西将自己与父母兄妹的亲情解读为一种根系性的盘根错节:它是痛苦之源,是爱之源,是力量之源,也是脆弱之源。

这种复杂的情感经历成为一种内驱力,使露西选择了写作寻找理解和表达。她的人生经历,尤其是她的童年经历,以及她与亲人的关系,成为她写作的素材与灵感的来源。在写下这些故事的时候,她其实是在重新审视自己的人生。她学会了直面一切,不回避、不粉饰、不妄下断语。也在这种直面中,她体会到了生活的复杂性。她为了弥补自己童年的缺憾,对她的两个孩子尽心尽力,从不吝啬对她们的亲吻和拥抱,在她的孩子长大后,她们还保持着友好的关系。然而,她没有成为她理想中的完美母亲。当丈夫婚内出轨,请求她原谅时,她坚决离了婚,深层动因是她不再愿意被家庭所束缚,想要追寻写作生涯。她如愿以偿地成为小说家,她的孩子们却和她疏远了。她们接纳了继母,从来不来她的新家留宿,这让她心中酸楚。她意识到在她孩子的心中,她是抛弃她们的那个人。

“我的名字是露西·巴顿”,这是自我介绍,也是自我宣告——“这就是我”。露西努力改变命运,告别了故乡,却发现自己的根依然在那里;她生活在纽约,得到了她所追求的,却也失去了一部分她的所爱。人生是复杂的,情感是复杂的,她成为一位作家,一个体悟这种复杂性、捕捉这份复杂性的人。小说看似一则励志故事,却没有它安慰心灵的圆满结局;看似一则与家人和解的心灵鸡汤,却不写小确幸。它让我们看来时路,观今日行,直视归途,细细体会五味杂陈的人生。

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