The Job of the Wasp

Colin Winnette. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-59376-680-1
Winnette’s sinister novel (after Haints Stay) begins with a Dickensian premise, as the narrator (unnamed for most of the book) is enrolled in a draconian school for orphans which, its headmaster brags, is “not a school.... It is a temporary holding facility with mandatory education elements.” Things quickly take a change for the weird when the headmaster singles out the narrator for special treatment, after which his rivals and bullies among the student body begin turning up dead. As corpses pile up, the narrator falls under suspicion, a possibility he refuses to discount even as he tries to solve the mystery. His ensuing investigation results in a death by wasp’s nest, runs afoul of a pair of sadistic twins, and begins to suggest that the school is not what it seems, but some kind of “purgatory of adolescence.” But who is the killer? Though the novel is tricked out with too many reversals, obfuscations, surreal characters, and seemingly random twists, it’s commendable for its experimentation: its oddness evokes Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten and Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz. This is a worthwhile novel for readers of the dark and twisted, who will find both in spades. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-59376-685-6
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