by michael redhill
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.