The summer my son turned 2, he and my husband and I rented a little house in Eastham, Mass. In Eastham the beach is unique: because Cape Cod Bay is so shallow there, when the tide goes out, the bay disappears. People play baseball on the flats. The fishing boats sit waiting on their keels. Alternately, when the tide comes in, the beach disappears, and the water climbs halfway up the staircases that descend from the bluff. Recreation requires reading a tide chart and planning ahead. I loved this challenge, connecting it somehow to War and Peace, which I’d irrationally decided to finish that summer after having failed so many times. I timed my son’s nap to low tide, so I could leave him at the house with my husband, and every day trekked onto the tide flats with my beach chair and tome. I’ll never forget the gorgeous, urgent solitude of reading that book, sitting on the floor of the ocean, as the gleaming tide crept toward my toes. It was the best and somehow the most apt book I’ve read at the beach: war and peace, after all, form the tide of our human existence. I did finish, and not only that, but I kept the book dry!
Choi’s latest novel is My Education
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