Monday, November 26, 2018

Paradise Rot, by Jenny Hval. Verson, 2018

Norwegian college girl Jo arrives in Australia to spend a year studying. Looking for a place to live, she comes across Carral’s ad for shared space in a “converted” brewery. I have quotes around ‘converted’ because it’s not really made fit for human dwelling. There are few walls put in. The bathroom is on the ground floor, and it has no ceiling- awkward when you consider that the place is two or three stories tall. Everything is just a jumble of coming apart steel. It smells of its former life, as well as of urine. Urine is a theme in this story; it comes up with discomforting frequency. But Jo settles in. Carral brings home a huge number of apples, which they can’t eat fast enough, and so start to rot all over the brewery. Slowly, a relationship develops between Jo and Carral. Mushrooms appear on the bathroom wall. The apples mark the fall of this smelly Garden of Eden.

This story has the feel of a horror novel without ever quite going there. I kept expecting the mushrooms to start growing on Jo or something. I found it extremely creepy, especially how Carral descends into a sort of human rot. I wasn’t sure if some of the descriptions were actually happening, or hallucinations brought on by how gross the brewery was. It’s totally surreal, rather like Lovecraft brought into the modern age. Three stars.

I got this book from the Amazon Vine Program in return for an honest review. This did not effect my opinions.