The most unreliable thing in our possession is our memory. And yet we invest so much trust in it.
This book is crazy. Really crazy.
A man wakes up in a room. He doesn’t remember anything about himself. He doesn’t know why he’s there. He runs into other characters who seem to be talking nothing but nonsense. (The characters and the way they speak remind me of the characters in Alice in Wonderland.) Even the books in the library have been taken apart, shuffled up, and glued back together. He’s desperately searching for any kind of clue that will tell him who he is, where he is, and what he’s doing there.
He keeps track of everything by writing in a daily journal, addressing his writing to the person he believes is responsible for his circumstances, hoping that this person will eventually show him/herself.
An excerpt from a letter left in his possession…
“I have disguised my writing and it is my hope that by the time you determine my identity you would have understood enough to forgive me. We are the only ones left. Trust no one. Least of all yourself.”
Before you read this book, you first have to decide whether or not it’s for you. If you don’t like to be confused while you’re reading, do not read this book. If you don’t like to be inside one person’s head and every thought they have for a whole book, do not read it. BUT if you like a challenge, a head-scratcher, something to boggle your mind then I highly recommend giving this book a try.
Travellers are less interested in adventure than in finding something familiar in an unexpected spot.
Now that you know you want to read it, here are some tips on how to read it. Why? When I first started to read it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue. I felt confused and I felt like I had to remember every detail along the way or I would get even more confused. But soon I was exhausted trying to remember every detail and looking prematurely for clues that might help me figure out what was going on. So, don’t do that. Instead, just go with it. Pay attention, but don’t kill yourself trying to figure things out. Just keep reading.
There are 5 stages to this book. Don’t expect to find any clues at all in Stage 1. But once you get into Stage 2 you will start to pick up on small clues and patterns. By Stage 3, the pattern will be even more evident. The clues and pattern recognition will give you hope that you might eventually figure this thing out.
(From my notes… “started to notice little things in Stage 2 that relate to Stage 1 — yippee!”)
In Stage 4, don’t be surprised if you once again feel a little overwhelmed. There are more characters coming at you all at once, and you’ll be trying to determine which ones are important to pay attention to and which ones aren’t. Which ones are crazy, which ones might be visions, and which ones might be the real deal. (One character in this section is a “breatharian”… he gets his energy from “inhaling nutritional microbes and from the morning sun”.) I’m still not sure I have it entirely worked out. And I have lingering questions. But eventually you will get to to Stage 5 and be rewarded for your efforts.
“Someone was trying to impede my progress, which was confusing because I had no idea what I was looking for.”
One thing is for sure, Rabindranath Maharaj has one heck of an imagination. And I never had any idea of what was going to happen next. If nothing else, this book is worth reading just to admire it.
Another thing this book has going for it is that it’s good clean fun – very little profanity, sex, violence. Not too scary, and sometimes the main guy is even kind of funny. There’s definitely humour to be found in his situation. There’s also a lot of detail provided about the man’s surroundings… as crazy as his “journey” was, I could easily visualize everything described in his journal. Someone could have a field day making a movie out of this.
I especially enjoyed his time looking through books at the libraries he discovered.
“A thick cream curtain hangs behind one of the cabinets and when I first moved it aside, I saw a bookcase that had been built into the recessed wall. The books bore fascinating titles and they all seemed concerned with demonic possessions, lobotomy, bloodletting, and etherisation. There were also slim periodicals with obscure articles on trepanation and childbirth and others with diagrams of electric chairs and pulleys…
I have to wonder at the choice of reading material in this library.”
Do you like mind-boggling books? Have any good ones to recommend?
Have you read any of Rabindranath Maharaj’s other books? I’ve only read his short story from Victory Meat . From what I’ve seen and read, this one seems to be quite different from his others, many of which seem to be about the immigrant experience.
Thank you to Wolsak and Wynn for sending me an ARC of this book! I did notice quite a few typos in my copy, but they’ll hopefully be gone by the time the book comes out. Release date – May 8, 2018