Strange Hotel

Eimear McBride

Strange Hotel
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Strange Hotel

Eimear McBride

In the midpoint of her life, an unnamed woman visits a series of hotel rooms. They are in Avignon, Prague, Oslo, Auckland, Austin - but they could be anywhere: each resembles the last, as all hotel rooms resemble one another. And in each of these spaces, nothing happens; though something may have happened, or be about to happen. And always it involves a man - on the other side of a bedroom wall; waiting in the hallway behind the peephole; locked in a bathroom, the shower running.

Our narrator dwells in these pauses and cusps, drifts, procrastinates, as mysteriously, from that ‘black box within’, emerge the clues as to why she is here, what she is hoping to run from, or towards, or back to; or to recreate.


Hotels are strange places to exist – each is different, but there’s an element of same-ness to them. The room might be big or small, have blinds or curtains, be spotless or grimy, but there’s still the underlying uniformity of being in a place that can never really be lived in, only passed through. But Eimear McBride’s Strange Hotel articulates this feeling much better than I ever could.

In this short novel, a woman bounces from hotel to hotel, in cities all over the world, in the orbit of a tragedy. Sometimes she meets new people, sometimes she just stays in her room. Sometimes she’s deeply introspective and other times her consciousness lingers in the more shallow parts of her mind. Our nameless narrator circles the question of who she is in relation to the past, when memory weighs on her heavily. Strange Hotel seeks the answers to philosophical questions in the disjointed, stream-of-consciousness style of prose McBride has become well-known for. This literary technique is a perfect vessel to convey the strong sense of detachment our narrator feels. It’s hazy, occasionally sprawling, and sometimes as familiar as the hum of your own inner monologue.

For the non-McBride fan, the prose in this book may seem slightly impenetrable to begin with. But as with her previous offerings, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians, there is such a wonderful payoff for letting yourself sink into the rhythm of the writing. Whether you’ve been following this remarkable author since she debuted, or this is the first time you’ve picked up her writing, reading Strange Hotel is an active and engrossing reading experience.

Ellen Cregan is the marketing and events coordinator.

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