Gregory Morrison’s four story collection—where most of the characters tiptoe in and out of sanity, their reality skewered toward paranoia—addresses the following: What is happiness and how do we achieve it? What are we willing to sacrifice? How much control do we have of our lives?
In “Space”, our narrator—who feels a sense of dirtiness—literally sees things disappearing all around him (his girlfriend promises not to disappear, but one senses it is out of her hands). Written in a scattershot style, it suggests the “space” that communicates with the protagonist is conscience or God or a manifestation of evolving insanity. It takes away and purifies its booty; animals, objects touched by people, old energy replaced by new are Space’s concerns.
“Four Rooms” is the most Kafka-esque in style. A woman named Elise—the most accessible of the four story’s characters—finds herself trapped in a room in an ugly apartment building with only one window. She finds keys which open other rooms, but none led to an exit. She discovers a trapdoor leading to a tunnel where she finds another key that doesn’t fit the door’s padlock. There is a hole, but it is too high for her to see through. One room contains a wall full of mirrors, which she shatters. Eventually she gets out and finds herself in a hall with twenty-three doors where she meets a man who babbles on about our society’s dependence on too many prescription drugs.
“The Principle of Luidgi” introduces us to Luidgi, a man bored with his job, his friends and his lovers. He sleeps with many, loves none, has no loyalty and no direction. He wants to change his life, recognizing its shallowness but his ultimate fate suggests we are but a Supreme Being’s playthings and no more.
In the final story, “Guest”, a man wants to meet a wise person that he can trust. He waits for her in his room and when she shows up, it is obvious she is more than a guest. Here the issues examined include how and when one chooses to die, is death a form of happiness and the importance of parks.
Morrison tends to cross the fine line from absurdity into pretentiousness, but all four of his stories are edgy, experimental and poetic and two or more readings are suggested to glean more of the symbolism and subtext in the narrative.
Reviewed by Joe DelPriore for IndieReader