Subterranean gloom suffuses this creepy tale of the implosion of a deranged mind.
Fifteen-year-old Ian lives without electricity or water in a suburban house left to him by his mysteriously vanished parents. His dream is to â€œeradicate” his wants so he can sever all ties to the threatening, baffling â€œnobodies” that populate the world and be alone with his thoughts, the â€œsymphony of complex light arrangements that moves to the music you create in your mind.” Pursuing this goal to further extremes, he begins digging a hole in his basement in which to live and resolves to nourish himself solely by eating dirt. Inevitably, Ian’s project of self-sufficiency is undermined by hunger and gastrointestinal distress, which send him back to school in forays that grow increasingly desperate as he struggles to interact socially without revealing his growing insanity. His grip on reality loosening, he finds himself adrift in a hallucinatory netherworld, plagued by phantoms–a menacing history teacher who seems to be able to read his mind and an old librarian whose books uncannily parallel his warped world-view. Ian’s towering narcissism, solipsism and paranoia, his militant refusal to engage with a world on which he is nonetheless dependent, make him a modern-day blend of Holden Caulfield and Bartleby the Scrivener, with a touch of Psycho’s Norman Bates. By turns mordant, macabre and poignant, Maxwell’s first-person narrative situates readers within the claustrophobic confines of his protagonist’s twisted head, making Ian’s demented logic understandable–though no less horrifying–as he follows it to a grisly conclusion.
An arresting case study of a soul losing itself by abandoning all connections to the outside world.