Author: Karen Lillis
Publisher: Spuyten Duyvil
Rating: 3/5 stars
Summary: Fiction. “This is the story of Anselm.” A woman plans to set down a faithful portrait of her ex-lover, just days after he’s fled their one-room romance. But as she looks back on the crash-and-burn affair, her writing quickly reveals her own contempt for and obsession with moody, unpredictable Anselm. The 35-year-old narrator is an unpublished writer and retail clerk who spends her working hours shelving in a downtown bookstore, her days off laying low in a Brooklyn luncheonette. Anselm is a charming but hapless recent New Yorker, composer of music, and an Ivy League drop-out who hails from a disastrous Appalachian childhood. His storyline is heartbreaking, yet the fallible narrator goes in and out of sympathy for him as she vacillates between telling his story and theirs. In a voice that evokes the melancholy of Jean Rhys and the frankness of Annie Ernaux, WATCH THE DOORS AS THEY CLOSE recounts the intense affair as it disintegrates–all the while painting vivid scenes of American rural poverty and New York bohemia at the turn of the Millennium.
Thoughts: Watch The Doors As They Close tells the story of Anselm, narrated by his nameless ex-girlfriend. Written in journal form, she takes us through their entire relationship, filling in the details of Anselm’s past as she goes.
The book starts out with Anselm having returned to Pennsylvania and The Girl talking about the journal he gave her. She decides to use it to write their story, not in the hopes that someone will read it, but simply so she can get it down on paper before she forgets. Their relationship is an interesting one – she says many times that they loved each other deeply, but that he never did anything to show that love. Like on her birthday, he didn’t do anything special for her.
I found the book interesting, but I didn’t really see a plot in it. It wasn’t quite stream of consciousness ramblings, but it didn’t feel like a cohesive story to me. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. I could totally relate to The Girl and those feelings of wondering if your boyfriend really loves you or if he’s just saying it to appease you. It’s a story of a normal life, which is something that I think most people are able to relate to (unless they’re in the 1%).
Really, that’s all life ever asks of you. Is that you go along, and experience what you experience, and feel what you feel, but that you don’t let your experiences bind you up and prevent you from living and seeing and feeling and loving. From moving forward.
I loved this line because it’s so true, and I think that’s the whole point of the book: to just get through life and experience whatever it is we’re meant to experience without letting it hold us back.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Outsider Writers. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way.
Note: All summaries come from Goodreads.