Infinite Rooms is a terrifying thriller that follows one man’s descent into madness. While narrating to a remembered psychiatrist, Donald Clement’s inner reality becomes infused with surreal fantasy: Neptune rising from the sea; a giant showing the wonders of the universe; an incredible stranger who promises to reveal the secrets of infinity. As Donald falls deeper into the mental realm, so his protected memories are gradually revealed again, exposing the shocking truths he has been hiding…even from himself. Like a unique, mind-bending cross between Clive Barker and China Mieville, this is a novel of wonderful psychological terrors and fantastical dreams, as one man wrestles with the thin line between fantasy and reality.
An extraordinary novel. The quality of the writing, as well as the author’s imaginative prowess, is immediately apparent. As another reviewer has written, this is a challenging read – this book will disturb you, quite probably frustrate you at times, and astound you with its imagery and dexterity with language. Is the central character, Donald Clement, undergoing psychosis, some florid schizophrenic state? Do the ‘mind rooms’ he manifests represent his salvation or his doom? Is his paramour, Bernadette, real or some imaginary and idealised version of womanhood (who then gradually corrodes to her antithesis); who exactly is Dr Leibkov? Has a crime been committed as the result of adultery, or was the adultery itself the crime which has set Donald’s mind askew, broken his soul? You’ve got to read it to find out – albeit the novel discourages a single definitive interpretation – I imagine there will be numerous ‘readings’ of this text.
Infinite Rooms contains some incredibly impressive and memorable set-pieces of descriptive writing. A dark, somewhat bitter humour pervades a narrative studded with moments of deep pathos. I found the ending strangely moving – both a release and a kind of despair. I’ve never read a novel quite like this, or had such an intense reading experience – at times, similar to taking mushrooms or being sleep deprived. To paraphrase R.D. Laing’s contention, a person’s apparent ‘madness’ or ‘psychotic’ behaviour can often be seen as explicable, and even oddly rational, when one understands their social and emotional world, their external and internal history – David John Griffin has given us, in Donald Clement, a compelling and emotionally-layered character who exemplifies Laing’s view.
Mark Mayes, author of The Gift Maker
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.
Neverimitate, top 1000 Amazon reviewer
Author: David John Griffin
David John Griffin is a writer, graphic designer and app designer, and lives in a small town by the Thames in Kent, UK with his wife Susan and two dogs called Bullseye and Jimbo. He is currently working on the first draft of a third novel as well as writing short stories for a novel-length collection.
His first novel – published by Urbane Publications in October 2015 – is called The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb. The second is a literary/psychological novel, entitled Infinite Rooms. He has independently-published a magical realism/paranormal novella called Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn. One of his short stories was shortlisted for The HG Wells Short Story competition 2012 and published in an anthology.
His website is http://www.davidjohngriffin.comRead More
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