The Apartment; Greg Baxter
Twelve - Hachette - 2013
The Apartment was a strange kind of novel, roughly 200 pages; it's a debut novel and although there isn't any real action, it's the quiet, deliberate tone that held my interest for the most part.
The story has a 41 year-old unnamed male protagonist who has moved to an undisclosed European city. We learn that he is an American, has plenty of money, spent time in the Navy, two tours of duty during the war, and that he spent time in Iraq as a Intel contractor as well. He's an introspective individual who claims to never think about his time in Iraq, yet he does think about it. It is through these flashbacks that the reader gets a glimpse of his past and the reason for his somber inflection. It is clear he has seen plenty of violence and even caused some of the violence as well.
The entire novel takes place in a day, a cold, snowy, damp December day as he tires of his six weeks living in a cheap hotel, and intent on finding a suitable "apartment" instead. He is accompanied by a pretty young woman named Saskia who he has just met at an art museum. It's unclear what Saskia's relationship is with the protagonist. She lives in a rundown flat with a roommate, but seems like she has a vested interest in helping her friend find a much better place in the best part of town. Together they go about town trudging through icy walkways and snowy streets, shopping (he needs a warm winter coat as he arrived from a desert town in the US). They spend time eating, drinking tea and searching for an "apartment" over the course on the novel.
So what is the point of this story? Well, I'm not exactly sure. It's certainly a quiet sort of novel, where nothing exciting happens, yet when small doses of the protagonist's past are revealed, I was anxious to find out more about the mysterious man who seemed so intent on forgetting much of the darker details of his past. I'm on the fence about how I felt about this one. The writing was decent, but overall a bit too quiet for my taste.
3.5/5 stars (eGalley)