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Excerpt from “Euphoria’’ by Lily King

An excerpt from “Euphoria” by Lily King

My village of Nengai lay forty river miles west of Angoram. As the crow flies it would have been half that, but the Sepik, the longest river in New Guinea, is flamboyantly serpentine, the Amazon of the South Pacific, with a tendency to meander to such extremes that it has created, I learned a decade later under much different circumstances, over fifteen thousand oxbow lakes, places where the loops bent around so far they broke off. But when you are in a dugout canoe at night, even if it is motorized, you are not cognizant of the inefficient zig and zag of your route. You simply feel the river bend one way and then eventually another. You get used to the bugs in your eyes and mouth and the shiny rucked bulges of crocs and the monkeys caterwauling on high branches and the thrash and bustle of thousands of nocturnal creatures gorging themselves while their predators sleep. You do not feel the extra, unnecessary twenty miles. If anything, you wish the trip were longer.

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