PEO­PLE IN THE ROOM

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Translation -

No­rah Lange, Char­lotte Whit­tle (Trans­la­tor), And Other Sto­ries (AU­GUST) Soft­cover $15.95 (200pp) 978-1-911508-22-9

No­rah Lange’s Peo­ple in the Room is a tes­ta­ment to the breadth of the imag­i­na­tion. A story within a story, its lines be­tween re­al­ity and fan­tasy are ob­scured on a street in Buenos Aires.

From her win­dow, an un­named ado­les­cent girl ob­serves the house across the street and dis­cov­ers three mys­te­ri­ous women. Al­most by re­flex, she be­gins craft­ing nar­ra­tives around each of them, though she has never met them in per­son. In her mind, the or­di­nary takes on a mythic qual­ity; she won­ders why the three of them live to­gether and seem to have no hus­bands or chil­dren. When a man does come to visit, she weaves an elab­o­rate sce­nario of tor­tured love and pas­sion­ate cor­re­spon­dence be­tween him and one of the women, who—the girl thinks—ei­ther out­right re­fuses him or is barred from re­turn­ing his af­fec­tions by one of her older sis­ters.

When she fi­nally does get to visit the women, it is un­clear if the visit is hap­pen­ing in re­al­ity or still within her imag­i­na­tion, though the lat­ter seems more likely. She of­ten wishes the women were dead. This sen­ti­ment is per­haps meant to pre­serve them in her mind, away from the world that is chang­ing around her. Her fam­ily even­tu­ally sends her away for a while to cure her odd be­hav­iors and fix­a­tions. Whether that works to their sat­is­fac­tion re­mains am­bigu­ous.

The writ­ing is evoca­tive and at times grotesque, sug­gest­ing an in­ter­nal­ized fear of grow­ing up and leav­ing be­hind the fa­mil­iar. One of the sis­ters, to her hor­ror, dis­cov­ers a spi­der in her room, and this be­comes a re­cur­ring im­age. This dream­like qual­ity runs through­out and is sus­tained beau­ti­fully in the trans­la­tion.

Peo­ple in the Room is a lyri­cal por­trait of ado­les­cence that bridges the in­no­cence of child­hood and the un­known of adult­hood.

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