Infinite Rooms, by David John Griffin, takes the reader inside the mind of Donald Clement, who is struggling to cope in what most would consider the real world. Through dreams and imaginings Clement travels the rooms of his mind trying to adjust his memories and construct barriers against experiences from his past that have caused him grief. In his head he discusses what he is doing with Dr Leibkov, who advises him that to move forward these barriers must be removed.
The writing is surreal. It is cleverly crafted, offering snippets of memory that enable extrapolation of the events which brought Clement to this juncture. At times I thought that I understood, then this too would become opaque, further layers hinting at an alternative interpretation. There were links but it continued to be unclear who and what was real outside of Clement’s mind.
Clement remembers meeting the beautiful Bernadette, the happiness of their early marriage and then how his jealousy drove them apart. Much of his musing occurs on a train journey when the reader is offered glimpses of how Clement perceives his fellow passengers and how he is seen by others. This disconnect offers puzzle pieces to add to the picture being created of what Clement’s life has been.
At the end I was still questionning what had just been narrated. The lack of lucidity was at times challenging, yet it was a satisfying literary journey.
Much as I wish to read eclectically and be stretched, I suspect that my analytical mind may not be capable of fully appreciating surrealism. What I can recognise and commend is the tension and disturbance created in the reader by putting them inside such a disturbed mind. Clement’s psychosis is brilliantly evoked. This is an extraordinary read.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Urbane.