Belle­vue Square

by michael red­hill

The Walrus - - ON THE TABLE - — Emily Don­ald­son

read­ers of edgar al­lan Poe and Fy­o­dor Dos­to­evsky know not to take a dop­pel­gänger in lit­er­a­ture lightly: its pres­ence usu­ally fore­tells the pro­tag­o­nist’s im­mi­nent death or de­scent into in­san­ity. Michael Red­hill’s Belle­vue Square fol­lows Jean Ma­son, a Toronto book­store owner whose cus­tomers be­gin to con­fuse her for a wo­man named In­grid. One of them men­tions to Jean that she can find this “ab­so­lute” twin at the local (and tit­u­lar) park. Jean even­tu­ally goes and be­friends local drug ad­dicts, va­grants, and sundry ec­centrics. She doesn’t meet her dou­ble un­til well into the book, after which the nar­ra­tive be­comes messy, hop­ping from mur­der to men­tal break­down and back to mur­der again. In play­ful prose, Red­hill grad­u­ally blurs the line be­tween dop­pel­gänger and dop­pel­gängee to such a de­gree that Belle­vue Square feels less like a novel and more like a lit­er­ary labyrinth. Even so, there’s a gen­uine thrill to the ab­sur­dity of Red­hill’s sto­ry­telling.

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