“I feel like part of the vanishing breed that thinks a writer should be read and not heard, let alone seen. I think this is because there seems so often today to be a tendency to put the person in the place of his or her work, to turn the creative artist into a performing one, to find what a writer says about writing somehow more valid, or more real, than the writing itself.”
— William Gaddis — from his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in Fiction for J R , April 1976 — via Time’s Flow Stemmed
Some thoughts on THE WAY INN by Will Wiles
Will Wiles’ first novel, Care of Wooden Floors (2012),* suspended its protagonist in the tragicomic tension of occupying another man’s home, so perfectly designed to reflect the personality of its owner (a minimalist composer) that any other person trying to navigate it would be bound — like that protagonist — to chaotic misadventure. Wiles’ new novel, The Way Inn (Harper Perennial), instead takes on a space tailored to no personality, the anonymous hallways and rooms of a corporate chain hotel with locations all over the world, each meant to feel as blandly familiar and welcoming to the corporate road warrior and conference attendee as any other. As those anonymous spaces become imbued with personality, the banal revealing itself to be idiosyncratic and unpredictable, so too The Way Inn becomes a novel between or across genres: the thriller, the haunted house story, the quietly reflective contemporary novel of work.
“The coyotes worked in teams, taking what they needed while the subdivisions slept and the moon and stars rattled around in the sky. It took two or three of them to carry a piece of lumber; they would clamp it in their jaws, stop every so often to rest and readjust.”