Here is a world of shadows, where nothing is what it seems.
The moment you establish some kind of ground, it moves. The jumping-castle world of Scott Bradfield causes a kind of nausea, one that inspires a feeling for internal escape.
When I first tackled this novel I was totally unprepared, I hardly knew how icy this water could be or what type of book this could be. So I put it down for many months and just let it languish.
Eventually after a while I started to get into Bradfields flow.
At first we are ‘on the road’ like Kerouac but we are firmly fixated on our mother figure who is a totally empty void. No mother available. There are no bearings, the world is a vacuum where we don’t know ages, dates and just vaguely know places. This is a world of minimalism Donald Judd style. This is a Campbell soup can without the label, This is just the shelves, empty spaces have been placed back in the areas of life that should be filled with what you expect.
This an America that is void of anything, void of parents, void of direction, void of responsibility.
I never once believed that Philip was a real person whatever ‘real’ is. Nor did I believe that his mother or the other people in the novel where real people.
They where all metaphors, all examples of void. They where children with adult minds and adults with child like minds (or no minds at all) The two murders did they happen? I am still not sure.
Something about the novel reminded me of a David Lynch movie, especially in its more macabre moments. I was uncomfortable, but I was also aware that I was meant to be uncomfortable.
The book also has a translucent delicate quality that reflects the subtle qualities of Bradfields writing, this style envelopes you and protects you from the harsh cold that is the overhanging reality of the situation.
It’s only short book, (196 pg) and it’s challenging. I did love the way Bradfield painted the mother as an empty but complex vessel, I started to feel that the mother actually was symbolizing America.
She was a wasteland, wasteland America, a wasteland which right at the end of a long and exhausting void-less search for meaning asks politely ‘I don’t want to see you anymore’.