LITERATURE: The Unconsoled – Surreal?

From dreamlike we go into surreal, as Ryder accompanies the hotel manager Hoffman into a dinner party dressed in his jammies. No one bats an eye. Well folks, this isn’t realism here even by Hollywood standards.

We are given clues all along, in this case, the hostess taking Mr. Ryder through the room where everyone is supposedly anxious to meet him and yet, “Certainly no one broke off a conversation on account of my passing by.” (p. 125) And this: “I had assumed she was leading me either to a particular spot in the room or to a particular person, but after a while I got the distinct impression we were walking around in slow circles. In fact several times I felt certain we had alrady been in a part of the room at least twice before.” (p. 125)

All this perhaps explains the out of touch (but lovely) language of the narrator: “Then, as I continued to cast my gaze about me, I began steadily to realise just what had taken place before our arrival.” (p. 126) It would seem to suit the formal, vague atmosphere of the story, almost a slow-motion effect if presented onscreen.

Then a bit of dramatic action occurs, a fight breaks out between a guest and a veterinarian over the doctor’s care of Brodsky’s dog which has just died and is the cause of great alarm that Brodsky cannot perform Thursday night. I do love this line though: “What about the Breuers’ kittens? You spend all your time playing bridge, you let those kittens die one by one…” (p. 127)

And from there, the group grows louder with absurd complaints against the vet; stuff of which dreams are made.

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