Publication Year: 2012
It is well known that New Orleans has its dark underside as well as its glowing visible delights. The journey that Julia Garrett, an intelligent, attractive, but psychically driven girl, makes through the city's hidden labyrinth shapes the movement of this riveting novel. In crisscrossing the city from the secure world of home in the Garden District to the titillating world of the Vieux Carré, Julia risks physical and psychological peril. As she explores life on the other side, she becomes engulfed in the vortex of evil.
In The Snare, one of America's most highly acclaimed fiction writers explores the mystery of place and the mystifying duality of the human wish, with its desire for both dark and light. The book masterfully evokes the ineffable sense of excitement aroused by the sinister, exotic beauty of New Orleans and the men and women who inhabit its fecund streets.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
Series: Banner Books Series
Title Page, Copyright Page
Elizabeth Spencer's Julia Garrett, the protagonist of The Snare, is a haunting presence among American literary characters. A woman who feels to the marrow of the bone a sensuous responsiveness to life, she finds no ways to give expression to her passionate intensity but...
1. THE SQUIREMEISTER PARTY
It was just that Bucky and Marie Squiremeister suddenly found themselves with more and more people dropping by, and it was New Orleans, and it was spring. More: it was a noticeable, a particular spring, which kept coming on (they talked of it in New...
2. THE TOUCHSTONE
Of the two addresses that Tommy Arnold had teased her about, Julia Garrett gave the cabdriver the more distinguished one, in the University section. It was called Audubon Place, a cul-de-sac of residences off St. Charles Avenue across from Audubon Park. She...
3. THE UNHOLY VISIT
As she stared at it, the photographed face would seem to rise vibrant toward her vision with unknowing force. Then she laid her hand over it quietly and firmly. The picture took up a very large part of the page, almost as much as her hand covered. Now the...
4. MAURICE DEVIGNY
As he went to work that morning, catching a taxi because he had gossiped too long with his wife, Maurice Devigny thought things over as regards his niece and could come up with nothing except increased feelings of curiosity, vague anxieties. Several...
5. THE SECOND ADDRESS
Edie collected records, one of her mild, pleasant habits. With the help of her boyfriend, a student physicist, she had rigged up a small hi-fi for these singular quarters. She had also put cheap but colorful rugs on the floor, had enameled white an old wrought-iron bedstead scrolled in...
6. THE MISSES MULLIGAN
The day of this conversation with Edie, she had been sitting on the back steps on a warm Sunday afternoon in winter, thinking of Martin Parham, the boy from up in Mississippi she had planned for so long to marry, sitting with her long hands resting on either side of her blue silk...
7. CONVERSATION IN A DRUGSTORE
"He said he was just down here on account of being out of it alive and whole—out of that messy little war over there in Korea, that is. I could see that. It even made sense. So he had the music and the song-writing, no vast talent is claimed by him, but a need of using it as a path...
8. THE MARNIE CASE
Tommy Arnold had been aware of this world for years. Maybe he was a little in love with it. Certainly it was his one abiding interest, since his wife had turned into a nag—their most serious conversations, held regularly every two months, concerned divorce—and since he...
9. A REAPPEARANCE
Another day she ran straight into what really was Wilma Wharton. It was downtown, near the lingerie counter of Maison Blanche, and the woman caught her shoulder and swung her around. Julia understood from the papers that Wilma had been located and held as a...
10. THE TRIAL
Isabel realized that she was tired of it as well, as at perhaps that very moment everybody thought they must be tired of it, too, all over New Orleans. The mood of the city shifted. People began to think of how to get away for the summer. The ones who could were going...
11. THE TRIAL CONTINUES
His head swung round; he looked out, but over and past her. The strain was apparent then, around the eyes, and she startled herself with a wave of desire to protect, feed, nurse him back to where he was that first day when the door of Dr. Pollard's office had swung wide on him...
12. THE TRIAL RESUMES
There had been, he at once admitted, a series of robberies. The robberies were generally of filling stations in out-of-the-way places, usually at dimly lit state highway intersections, or in semiresidential neighborhoods, rather poor, where few people came out at night for gas...
To Julia and Tommy Arnold it now seemed they had known each other for years instead of weeks. She knew his typecasting in her life, the not-quite-brother, not-quite-lover, the kindness and confidence of it all. Her plate arrived. She took off the floppy, disguising hat and laid it...
But New Orleans was an instrumental town. How to score with songs in any significant way was Jake's big problem. A girl singer in a night club, maybe one who could strip too, might have a chance, but balladeering, like country songs, while it found some audience, was...
Now, the creature, immaculate, you could be sure, in low-heeled white pumps and clean cotton, waited in shadow and beside her rose the dark, intelligent but nondescript head of the boyfriend, whose purpose was to back her up. Only it would be a little more than that in it now...
All day Isabel strove, at times with real strength, to get it firmly in accord with her image of Julia that a defining thing like this had actually, finally occurred. She wandered in the house and garden and did something Maurice remembered her doing from long before, back...
Here Isabel, alone and wondering, wandering her lovely rooms in the morning, cool-warm and green-flowering at the windows, remembered the wild crashing from the attic, her sense that the house itself, solid, three-story, almost vast, was totally endangered. The...
18. THE SEARCHER
It was good, thought Julia, repeating it to herself, but not good enough. Look deeper, she would think, getting it through to him as he gnawed a pencil, pondering. "Remember the scent of hair, dark hair; that would make another song." She'd got this out of what he'd told her in the dark about herself, and there...
Around New Orleans, around the Quarter, especially after dark and into the small hours, they got to be well known. Bartenders talked to them, and late night entertainers adjourned with them at dawn into the French Market or some early morning coffee place. They slept through every morning, rousing...
What had it all meant? Julia went around all afternoon after the train left, all through the French Quarter and elsewhere, trying to find somebody who knew and would tell her, and in the late afternoon she went to the hospital, to the out-patient clinic. Her shoulder had kept hurting, so much...
The In-Between Time
1. OLD RELATIONS
Julia herself saw a number of different lives she might have at least made some effort toward creating rise up before her eyes and sink from sight. She did not follow, or so much as reach out her hand. The man from Texas came and went; the Frenchman—half-Creole...
2. THE MAN IN HER LIFE
To Martin Parham, who spent most of his days contemplating whether or not to get a divorce, what little he had been able to do to rehabilitate Julia Garrett after the Springland affair seemed decisive, and a good thing. He had been able to tip the scale toward getting her in a right sort of setting for herself, and he...
3. THE OLD MAN
Reunited after the Springland period, now it was Julia who was worrying to Martin. She was, for instance, in the habit of observing nearly a month of the year in remembrance of Maurice's father, the old man, Henri Devigny. Martin Parham had run into this habit many times, and each time his irritation with her...
4. JULIA WRITING
"The whole Devigny family never was so devoted to country living, but wanted to be in New Orleans all they could. When Uncle Maurice showed their pictures around in the old leather album it was clear why the women wanted to move. It had to do with hats, which they liked...
5. JULIA THINKING
She was remembering the town—Towson, Tennessee, up near the Alabama-Mississippi border. It was the thirties and they had boarded, the three of them, her mother, her father, and herself, in a tall white Victorian house, one of those houses meant from the first, no doubt, to be boarding houses...
6. MISTRESS AND WIFE
Martin Parham, Julia coolly decided, about a hundred times a week, was a mixed blessing. He had loved buying the house she lived in, in somebody else's name (a firm in Baton Rouge was said to own it), getting the entire arrangement worked out so that it was nontraceable to him in any form, shape, or fashion...
7. REFLECTION AND DECISION
"He gave it full value, way too much, and he didn't really mean it all the time, but from time to time he did mean it. This is how love is. After all, he had known in the salt smell of Charleston and the static beauty of Jamaica what he had found out in the bayou...
1. A RETURN
Up at Parham Station, up where Martin Parham lived with his wife and children and all that family of relatives, one of the day's few major events was the arrival of the bus bearing in its underparts—along with suitcases, young unplanted balled trees, parts of farm machinery—the wire-tied package of...
2. THEY KEEP COMING
From the instant the anonymous outline appeared across the park, framed in a small area of light between the sloping roof of the French Market on the horizon and the straight upward thrust of a corner store which sold ships' salvage, she knew she had entered her own...
3. THE COURSE
She got the letter in the mail the following week and it said: "I know you'd be glad to stop by Ellis Candies on Coliseum & St. Mary & carry pkg. to the Wilsons over near Amelia because you used to live over that way." And there was nothing else in the envelope but a folded piece of paper and an address...
4. A CALL TO ARMS
Tommy Arnold, who had forsaken the newspaper five years before to edit a publication on Louisiana products which the Chamber of Commerce put out, did see the article on Ted Mamie's reappearance. He was at his house, in the evening. A grilled-gate, white-painted Spanish-type stucco bungalow on a...
It's dangerous, thought Tommy Arnold, to get back into all this again. Why would I do it, he wondered, except for her? Or am I making an excuse of her, and it's me that really wants back in? Do I really like swimming in filthy water? No answer to that. He was no longer sure...
She must, however, have said yes—more or less inadvertently— to a widower with one child who used to take her out to dinner, for she was announced as engaged and Aunt Isabel and Uncle Maurice gave a party for her. The man's name was Joe Delaney and he was in...
7. SURVIVING (Continued)
In the store the clerk saw her twice but each time waited on customers who had come there after her. Suddenly impatient, she wondered what would happen if, instead of complaining, she simply walked out with the bag, and she did and nothing happened. She got...
8. MARNIE'S RETURN
There was a crowd at the airport when Ted Marnie was flown in. Tommy Arnold, whether he would once more fail to get that story out of New Orleans or not, had his chance to recapture it for the city. His daily stories, recalling elements of the old crime, replaying them, theme by theme, once again...
9. THE NET
They had found him in, of all places, Baton Rouge. So he never left, she thought, with wonder. Catching that train north and then getting off still in the South, what did he mean? Or maybe he left and wandered back again. So where exactly did they find him? In a grocery...
10. HOTEL CROYDON
The next afternoon, after work, she went down to that part of town on the bus and saw it from a distance. Earlier there had been a thunderstorm so severe several people at the hospital said it looked like a tornado was striking and patients who had to have intravenous got...
11. AUDUBON PLACE
Martin Parham dead? It seemed like something they had both dreamed, like that whole afternoon of Julia's announcement party, people spilling out over the veranda and into the garden at the side, around the old cistern with its peaked roof, people on walks, living, yet decorative...
12. AND JAKE
But it was not Jake but Dev whose head leaned to her out of a bougainvillea vine dark as wine or emperor's blood, who said once more as in days gone by: In a certain manner of speaking, we've none of us got anything outside our love. And she remembered the strong clean...
13. AND MUSIC AGAIN
There was glory in this, Julia thought: something genuine. They were telling him, by asking him to play with them in those places, which were showcases in New Orleans for one of the things the city did best, that understanding was not withheld from him just because...
14. MARKING TIME
The light in there was dim. She had known about the place for years, had gone from time to time since childhood, but had never known it to change. There was a tomblike changelessness about the box of a living room, surrounded by enlarged photographs of serious-faced...
15. OPEN DOOR
Julia noticed how the decor of New Orleans persisted through these evenings, allowing the players to be quiet and faithful only to the music they played, to pack up instruments and pay no more attention to the audience than if they had been part of some great ritual, like priest...
16. POINT OF CONTACT
In New Orleans the Springland record made a better than average sale, and for a week or so it went pretty big. But the town, which had started taking Jake for granted (he was a character in it now), was not really going to go to the point of doting on him, or of giving him more than a certain quality...
The blur was clearing. They were all in the country, the four of them, on a beautiful day. She woke in the room she had been in for what had been left of the night, and got up slowly. The windows were broken and fallen in. One had a curtain nailed across it. There were flies in the room, in sunlight, and these...
She had had the child, she argued with him. Actually had it. Wasn't that proof enough that she'd never been playing except for keeps? She had a job, and somebody looked after the baby all day. Who? She gave him a puzzled look for two reasons: one, that she hadn't seen...
2. THEIR SEASON
"It was you all the time, you all the time," Tommy Arnold repeated, into her hair, kissing her neck, in a tumble of bedclothes, a tangle of limbs. Sleep and waking, caught in the driving storms of midnight and darkness, breathing quietness by the morning sunshine, quiet and knowing as grass and...
3. NIGHT VISITOR
Maurice Devigny crawled out from behind the newel post. He had come as near as anything to shooting her. He lived locked in, up in the old rooms where his father had passed his last year and had died; he walked daily a certain path in those rooms and...
4. THE STRAY
It was true that she was scratched, scarred, and half-starved, but she was not as down-and-out as he'd seen her in what he would have called much better days. A frazzled-out, askew look in some haphazard way actually made Julia appear to have come to terms with life better than others who...
But once the Parhams got hold of her, everyone made over her, and she was praised and fed and housed like visiting royalty. They esteemed the connection so much. For one thing Maurice had represented them well over the years. For another his acquaintance had got them into...
The child could walk. Emile could walk. A funny child, blond and exuding wisdom, he provoked Tommy Arnold to laughter, at times on sight. Today he wore a straw hat and Julia had him on a sort of lead, a long canvas strap around his waist, allowing him to...