What had once been rafters holding up a roof were now floor joists in Palmer’s house. Someone else’s house stood below theirs, long abandoned and unclaimed. Soon, his own home would be someone’s basement and this a sand-filled cellar. And so it went, sand piling up to the heavens and homes sinking toward hell.
My Kindle copy of Sand by Hugh Howey had a series of footnotes linked to a glossary in the end of the book. I didn’t need to go back to the definitions more than once; the meanings were fairly self-evident, and it’s a short list: thirteen different words for “sand”. The book takes place in a city in a world-sized desert, surrounded by sand, on top of sand, and slowly being buried. The wind blows constantly from east to west, bringing more sand every day to the point where every part of the city-dweller’s lives is saturated with some kind of it or another: sand in clothing, sand that sifts through windows, sand that collects in the corners of the eyes, sand poured out of a boot. Wells have to be cleared of sand in an endless bucket-line, new homes continuously being built as the old ones are buried. And when sand inevitably gets in your mouth, instead of wasting precious water to spit it out, you swallow it. Constantly. Bleak stuff, but the author makes the details of the story endlessly fascinating.