“In a Strange Room” might not be called a novel at all -
- but no doubt, Galgut is writing fiction.
“In a Strange Room” gives us three stories about a travelling man. The stories were originally published separately in The Paris Review. The traveller in these stories is sometimes referred to as he, sometimes as I, and every now and then he is named Damon. There is good reason to suspect the main character in the three stories for being one and the same man, a man quite close to the author – Damon Galgut.
“In a Strange Room” is a very well written book. The language is clear and transparent - giving the stories a nice rhythm. The most unconventional aspect in the book is the narrator’s alternation between first and third person perspective.
“In a Strange Room” is also a very sorrowful book; Galgut’s stories are filled with loneliness, sadness and despair. In the first two stories I get a feeling that that main character is unable to come close enough to the people surrounding him. He has difficulties admitting his own feelings not only to others, but also to himself. The last story has a different quality, as it doesn’t circle around the narrator, as is the case in the first stories, but is focused on a friend of the narrator. Still the impossibility of interpersonal unity and wholeness is also a theme in this last tale.
Galgut is very good at conveying feelings through text, there arise a feeling of desertedness inside while reading his pieces. One could accuse the book of being too sentimental, but the sensations it evokes, at last in me, are deeper and more existential.
ps: this is the first novel I've read as Kindle - its convincing ...