domingo, 8 de septiembre de 2013

Strange & elliptical

Lectura norteamericana de Opendoor vía Shelf-awarness

Iosi Havilio's Open Door is a strange, elliptical little novel written in a plainspoken prose that belies its haunting core. The unnamed narrator is a young Argentinian woman working in a veterinarian's office. The novel begins as she is visiting a man and a sick horse--both named Jaime--in a small town called Open Door. Later, the woman she has been living with in the city appears to commit suicide, and the narrator floats back to Open Door. There, she moves in with Jaime, whom she finds alternately appealing and mildly repulsive. She also meets a wild, charismatic girl named Eloisa who might be 15--or maybe 30.

She is called back to the city several times to determine whether the body of her roommate has been found. She thinks the officer in charge of the case may have fallen in love with her, but very little comes of it. A wheelchair-bound librarian helps her research the history of the "Open Door" psychiatric institutions that gave the town its name. She loves Jaime, then Eloisa, neither, both, but she stays. Each time the story seems to be headed in a particular direction it stalls, and the narrator slides sideways into another half-hearted endeavor.

Underneath the oddly sterile surface of Havilio's novel is a mesmerizing void. Are the characters really any different from the "loonies" living in the Open Door asylum? Are we? --

By Emma Page, intern at Shelf Awareness, bookseller at Island Books in Mercer Island, Wash.

Discover: This short, intense Argentinean novel is one of the first U.S. offerings from the "shamelessly literary" London publisher And Other Stories.