What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron

A couple locate themselves at a fading, grand European resort full of eccentric and now and again unsettling shoppers in this “faultlessly fashionable and quietly menacing” allegorical tale that examines the significance of shifting goals and the uncertainty of reality (Garth Greenwell, writer of Cleanness). An American couple journey to a strange, snowy European town to undertake a baby, who they hope will resurrect their failing marriage. This hard journey leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband concerns that her obvious infection will prevent the orphanage from liberating their child. The couple check into the cavernous and eerily abandoned Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel wherein the bar is usually open and the restaurant serves thirteen-route dinners from centuries past. Their try to claim their toddler is each helped and hampered via the human beings they encounter: an ancient, flamboyant chanteuse, a debauched businessman, an enigmatic faith healer, and a stoic bartender who dispenses an addictive, lichen-flavored schnapps. Nothing is as it seems in this mysterious, frozen world, and the longer the couple endure the punishing cold the much less they appear to understand approximately their marriage, themselves, and life itself. What Happens at Night is a “masterpiece” (Edmund White) poised on the cusp of reality, told by means of “an elegantly acute and mysteriously beguiling writer” (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe).


In Peter Cameron’s brand new novel, an American couple referred to only as “the person” and “the woman” test into the Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel in an unspecified northern European country. This isn't any ski junket; they're finalizing a long-awaited adoption of a toddler they hope will mend the widening rift of their marriage.

So far, pretty normal, right? But now not long after take a look at-in, the person finds himself within the resort bar, where he's befriended by using an ex-circus performer of indeterminate age and dealt with to the neighborhood alcoholic delicacy, a lichen-derived schnapps “tasting faintly of bleach and watercress and spearmint and rice.” The town’s two essential attractions appear to be the orphanage and an enigmatic healer who goes by means of the call of Brother Emmanuel.

The guy and woman’s first appointment with the orphanage lands them—in all likelihood by means of accident—in the healer’s den, which might or might not had been fortuitous, given the woman’s seemingly untreatable cancer. This flip of activities then cascades into a sequence of Waiting for Godot-esque moments in which anticipation is often met with frustration and similarly delay.

As in Samuel Beckett’s famed play, we examine a wonderful deal about the Americans as they wait for their next disappointment, chatting among themselves and with the Fellini-ish cast of helping characters. Every time the reader start to modify to a brand new normal, Cameron slips in some thing to unsettle it all, together with the resort’s doors (one in all which the man kicked in after dropping his room key) being UNESCO-certified artifacts salvaged from a Cairo opera house. That’s the sort of revelation a good way to make minibar fees seem trivial.

Perhaps What Happens at Night might were extra aptly titled When Serling Met Sartre. It’s a weirdly compelling mix of all the elements that make us human and all the conditions that test our humanity.

Maybe those characters need to have read a Yelp review before they booked this reservation. It’s possibly that the Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel doesn’t get many repeat customers.


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