Sunday, April 26, 2015
REVIEW: KNIFE PARTY AT THE HOTEL EUROPA
Mark Anthony Jarman’s Knife Party at the Hotel Europa is a collection of short stories but it reads as a novel, complete with the same narrative voice commanding every page, the same friends and lovers appearing and disappearing within the summertime sweltering streets of Rome, or Venice, or Pompeii or Naples. It’s repetitive in parts, the voice is, but not in a bad way, it’s like Bolero, touching over and over on its primary theme of love and beauty flawed, happiness a fingertip away yet always unattainable, a disaster either natural or personal ready to happen in the next room, or up the next stairway. A sunny day? There’s Vesuvius waiting to blow. Kayakers glide through corralled bodies of drowned immigrants. Gypsies stare and look away. Cousins fall in love, sort of.
This is a book not shy of metaphor and dazzle, extraordinarily rich with allusion, and it boasts as well the best Canadian snowstorm on literary record and, on the back cover, the blurbs themselves are well worth the read. No one writes like Jarman, and if you haven’t had the experience, here’s a great place to start, before it hits the Giller list.
Nicholas Ruddock is the author of The Parabolist and How Loveta Got Her Baby.