Noah's Compass: A Novel
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Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new and spare condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged. His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is . . . well, something quite different.
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knees. “But one assumes that won’t be an everyday occurrence.” Kitty didn’t look convinced. “Anyway,” she said. “Let’s see: what am I supposed to ask. Do you know what year this is? Can you tell me your last name?” “Yes, yes …” “And you don’t feel dizzy or sleepy?” “Certainly not,” he said. In fact, he had slept for most of the afternoon, waking only for check-up calls from Louise, Louise again, and his sister. He had been troubled by strange, vivid dreams and some sort of olfactory
shampooer.” “Don’t worry about that,” Louise said. “No, I insist,” he said. “How much was it?” “You can pay me back when you get a job,” she told him. “A job. Well …” “Have you filled out any applications yet?” “I’m not sure I even want to,” he said. “It’s possible I’ll retire.” “Retire! You’re sixty years old!” “Exactly.” “What would you do with yourself?” “Why, there’s plenty I could do,” he said. “I could read, I could think … I’m not a man without resources, you know.” “You’re
curiosity, although nobody looked up. “Must you?” Liam asked Louise the minute they reached the hall. Louise said, “Hmm?” and pressed the call button for the elevator. “Do you have to air your religion everywhere you go?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. She turned to Jonah. “You were such a good boy, Jonah! Maybe we can get you an ice cream on the way home.” “Mint chocolate chip?” Jonah said. “We could get mint chocolate chip. What did the doctor have to say?” she asked
he took great pride in showing off. But dropping in was not Louise’s usual style. She arrived as Liam was setting the table for supper. He had placed an order for Indian food—Kitty’s idea—which hadn’t come yet. Eunice was sitting in the living room, reading aloud from the want ads. (Even though they had abandoned the résumé pretext, Eunice made a point of swinging into job-hunting mode whenever Kitty was in earshot.) “Experienced medical assistant,” she read. “But really, you wouldn’t need that
didn’t want soup. In the cupboard he found a box of Cheerios, already opened. He shook a cupful or so into a bowl. Then he added milk, got himself a spoon, and sat down at the table. Kitty was trying on a beach robe striped in hot pink and lime green. “Does this make me look like a watermelon?” she asked him. He forgot to answer. “Poppy?” “Not at all,” he said. He took a spoonful of Cheerios and chewed dutifully. If Kitty said anything further, he couldn’t hear it over the crunching sound.