Michel Faber, “The Safehouse”

A homeless man finds his way to a peculiar shelter.

(from Vanilla Bright Like Eminem)

In a way, having a character like this as your unreliable narrator seems a bit too easy. Drugs, drink, psychosis — this guy’s so unreliable we can’t really work around him to figure out what’s going on. But what we do know is intriguing and puzzling. Our protagonist checks into what at first looks like a soup kitchen but maybe it’s a kind of limbo, where lost souls are gathered and tended to. It’s convenient (for the writer) that the staff at this odd place don’t explain anything to its inhabitants (or the readers). But that’s not a complaint. Things are supposed to be hazy here in limbo.

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