Of all of Erickson's novels Rubicon Beach is the timeless classic. In the disobedience of narrative structure he sculpts language and character into the most evocative series of images possible; he dares the ramparts of existential literature, makes Sartre look too constructed, Nietzsche too cool and Kafka too pessimistic. What is perhaps truly remarkable (and you can see him attempt the same effect in his subsequent works) is how the gestalt of images manages to cohere around the central, yet entirely ephemeral character of Catherine, who appears, disguised (by her own 'presence') to all others as the "woman with the knife in the folds of her skirt".
I read Rubicon Beach and heard the music. I entered the cold river and began to swim, already knowing that a promise of further shores was another of the many conventions I had left behind me on the receding bank.
This is a book for the brave - it cannot be un-read.
"I won't delude myself that integrity can be reborn or that passion can grow young. But the maps I've stolen from the archives navigate more than just the face of a woman . . . she knows it too, and she's waiting for me with the light of her face and her knife . . .If one is a prisoner by nature, it is best to have a prison as a home; it's a hard thing to be a prisoner trapped in the body of a free man. But then I escaped. I escaped the prison of my free body, and became a free man - at which point the free body was no longer a prison but a natural habitat. I would probably never understand how I had made this escape, I would probably never understand how she did it; but I knew she had done it, that she had cut me loose with her knife."