Waiting for Eden

She’d heard the stories about when they’d brought him in. The rush to the roof, his helicopter landing, and how close to death he’d always been. Between shifts, the older docs and nurses spoke quietly about the guy up on the fourth floor burned so bad it was a miracle he’d survived. They always talked about him quickly, in murmurs over their coffee or standing close to each other in an elevator. What they’d say was always the same: worst wounded guy in both wars, don’t know if I’d want to live like that, and just a matter of time. They all said that one: a matter of time…

His skin, already see-through with burns, didn’t sweat, it couldn’t. Instead it shone, the fever trapped inside…His body seized and then did a sort of whip-crack, struggling for breath even as he gasped…She climbed up on his bed and leaned in, not touching his burns but so close that her smell would linger around him. Before, when they would be in bed together, she’d often wake when he’d bury his face deep into the nape of her neck, covering himself in her dark hair to what she worried was the point of suffocation. One of the first things he ever told her was that he liked her perfume, but she never wore any. Her smell was of soap and water.

~ Elliot Ackerman, excerpts from Waiting for Eden: A Novel (September, 2018)

Notes: A mere 192 pages, but a story that will be seared into memory.  A National Book Award Finalist. An Amazon Book of the Month in October, 2018.  A book that reminded me of The Sea Inside and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  A NY Book Review by Anthony Swofford captures it beautifully: “To identify this book as a novel seems inadequate: ‘Waiting for Eden’ is a sculpture chiseled from the rarest slab of life experience. The sculptor’s tools are extreme psychological interrogation and clear artistic vision.”


  1. this. is. amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now she (the nurse) came to the side of his bed. His eyes looked away from her…She moved her hand over him, and put the pad of her middle finger on one of the gauzy bandages that covered his side. Then she ran her finger up to the edge of the bandage and looked at his eyes again, and seeing that they saw nothing, her finger leapt from the bandage’s edge onto the bare skin of his chest. It was burnt and smoked, bloodless, but not lifeless. This surprised her. The little piece of flesh she touched had more struggle in it than her whole body. Beneath her finger was survival, it was what a body could and would be when battered just to the edge. It was man suffering into the anlage of whatever came next, the amphibian crawling onto land, the first primate standing upright. It was that grotesque and purest form of adaptation: life. She took her hand away. Still he didn’t look at her…She walked quickly out the door and back to her desk, behind the monitors. She wanted to read her magazine but couldn’t. She sat. Eventually she managed to thumb through the first few pages, but only after she’d gone to the bathroom and washed her hand.

      ~ Elliot Ackerman, Waiting for Eden: A Novel (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. September 25, 2018)

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Wow 😯

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just finished. This is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’re done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds incredible…Reading these passages, I felt as though I were the one whose skin had been seared….into the queue it goes..immediately!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t read ( anything) in months…

    Liked by 1 person

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