Fancy, by Jeremy M. Davies
Perhaps when you were a child you had an elderly relative whose home you were obliged to visit. There you’d perch on the plastic-covered couch. You were offered a cellophane-wrapped sweet. Your relative and your parents would talk, and talk, and occasionally something would be funny or odd or slightly inappropriate and they’d all laugh.
Davies has written the novel version of just such an experience. A thankfully compact work, Fancy is a monologue delivered by compulsive hermit Rumrill. For some reason, Rumrill needs cat-sitters. He has invited a young couple to apply for the position, and he holds a one-sided novel-length conversation with these unfortunate folks to instruct them on his house’s routines, his cat-sitting expectations, and the life experiences and musings that formed them. There are lots of ten-dollar words. There are lots of Rumrill’s sly inside jokes.
Rumrill is not a wholly tedious narrator. He just requires patience, and careful attention to catch when he is being witty or insightful. If you want instant gratification – something Rumrill himself disdains – go elsewhere. If you’re willing to sit through the equivalent of a long, old-fashioned slideshow, you’ll gain a deeply philosophical meditation on how routines construct consciousness, the role of spatiality and memory in our lives, and abstraction of the self.
The 215 in 2015 series chronicles every book I read in 2015. Each review contains exactly 215 words, because 2015 words is too long and 2015 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2015.
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