A young woman meets a man at a restaurant while eating alone and contemplating her own death. They exchange words only briefly, but by the end of the week he has entered her world with an intensity rivaled only by her desire to end her life.
Told with the lyrical persistence of a Greek chorus, The Ancestry of Objects unravels the story of the unnamed narrator’s affair with David: married, graying, and ultimately a form of erotic power to which the narrator succumbs. As they meet more and more frequently, her thoughts move from their increasingly fraught encounters to her history with religion and the mystery of her absent mother, Ruth. The ghosts of her grandparents roam her ancestral house, sources of moral shame and reminders of the constant passage of time. Memories start, stop, and loop back in on themselves to form and unform her identity, with her beliefs, troubled past, and sexuality mixing feverishly in the face of oblivion. Nothing can fill the voids of time and loss; not God, not memory, not family, and certainly not love.
At once intensely sensory and urgently erotic, The Ancestry of Objects parses the multiplicity of selves who become a part of us as we push to survive. This is Ryckman – a master of the obsessive, desirous, complex exhaustion of human relationships – in peak form.