From the multi-award-winning author of the literary phenomenon A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, an exquisitely rendered and emotionally devastating meditation on love, loneliness, grief, and the possibilities for renewal.
A nameless woman enters a non-descript hotel room she's been in once before, many years ago. Though the room hasn't changed, she has, as have the dimensions of her life. As she goes on to occupy a series of hotel rooms around the world -- each of which reflects back some aspect of herself -- we begin to piece together the details of what transpires in these rooms, the rules of engagements she's put in place for herself and the men she sometimes meets, and the outlines of the absence she is trying to forget. Gradually, we come to understand what it is the narrator seeks to contain within the anonymous rooms she is drawn to, and how she might become free.
Told in a mesmerizing voice that will beguile readers with its fierceness, vulnerability, honesty, and black humour, Strange Hotel immerses us in the currents of attraction, love, and grief. It is an immensely moving and ultimately revelatory exploration of one woman's attempts to negotiate her own memories and impulses, and what it might mean to return home.
McBride (A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing) delivers a globe-spanning travelogue set entirely in hotel rooms in this beguiling work. Lists of cities section off the narrative; in those flagged by an x, the protagonist, an unnamed itinerant woman, has experienced a tryst. Rather than chronologically plot these encounters, McBride presents them as a runaway train of the woman's solipsistic thought as to their significance, leaving her at odds to draw conclusions. After rebuffing one man's advances, she returns to her room and falls asleep watching loud TV porn. Sex with one man pushes her into suicidal contemplation; sex with another cheers her enough to consider joining him for breakfast the following morning (she doesn't). In the final scene, McBride switches from third- to first-person narration, at which point the narrator reflects on how her past choices have "absented" her from herself. The linguistic prowess found in McBride's other books remains present, with the bravado slightly dialed down for emotional effect. McBride's nebulous formalist structure could be described as a long prose poem masquerading as a novel. As a narrative, though, it is a half-formed thing.