Monday, May 21, 2007

erica wagner

Just finished reading Erica Wagner’s first novel, “Seizure” (She is known for her story collection “Gravity” and because she works as literary editor of The Times.) I’m always drawn to new versions of the Gothic, and what better than this novel recommended by Josephine Hart, master of psychological horror. The story goes:
Janet receives a strange phone call: her mother has just passed away leaving her a house in the coast. Her knowledge is that the woman died when she was 3 years old so she is naturally shocked to hear this. And now she must go (afraid that a seizure might get hold of her while driving) to the coast where an unknown man, Tom, awaits her. Until the last moment she doesn’t (want to) realize that this man is her brother, and the novel exploits direct scenes of incest between them, building up the plot in a very Gothic manner.
Highly recommended, this novel just came out. I still haven’t read any reviews…
About the seizures, a reflection by the narrator:

“What are they like? people asked her sometimes. Once she tried this: Imagine you come into a room. It looks like a pleasant room. The furniture’s nice and it’s clean and orderly. It seems comfortable and even homely. Now, go out of the room again. The person—your friend, or a stranger—who’d led you into the room now reveals what had been kept hidden before: not long ago, there was a murder in that room. All the evidence has gone, of course, but the echo of the act remains. That kind of stain can never be truly erased. Go back into the room. What do you think of it now? It is not so comfortable, not so homely. You want to leave and you turn to go but you find that your friend—or the stranger—has locked the door from the outside” (78).

And, a few lines later, “still, it wasn’t right, this description”.

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