Naomi awoke to mint. With her cheek burrowed in the pillow, she opened one eye. Black fields buzzed past, the engine whined. She felt the baby move in her belly, the warmth of her husband’s hand on her thigh. She and Scanlon had been driving cross-country for a week, and tonight they’d arrive at their new home in Oregon. Without lifting her head, she cracked her window, and the smell of mint filled the car. Fecund earthy mint carried on moist night air. She used to love mint. Mint tea, mint jelly, mint gum. Like basil, a taste that’s mostly smell. Peppermint, apple mint, crinkle-leafed spearmint. She’d never known an entire night to smell of mint.
And the book is just as entertaining after that: a sensuous, tender, and often funny look at secession movements, a splintering marriage, academic politics, and, laced throughout, the deep connection between smells and memories.
Scribner teaches at Oregon State University. He’s written two previous novels — Miracle Girl and The GoodLife — but this is his first set in Oregon (in this case, a slightly fictionalized version of Corvallis).
Have you read any of Keith Scribner’s work? Do you have questions for him?
Note: This show will be pre-recorded on Thursday, June 30th, for broadcast on Monday, July 4th.